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Harvard President Claudine Gay Fiercely Condemns Hamas, Rejects Calls to Punish Students for Israel Statement


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By Miles J. Herszenhorn and Claire Yuan, Crimson Staff Writers


October 12



Harvard President Claudine Gay forcefully condemned “barbaric atrocities perpetrated by Hamas” and rejected calls to punish and name students who signed onto a statement that said they hold Israel “entirely responsible” for the ongoing violence.

Gay said in a video address Thursday evening — her third statement this week — that the University “embraces a commitment to free expression” and will not seek to sanction those who have criticized Israel, even as she sought to distance the University from the student group statement.

In the address, titled “Our Choices,” Gay reiterated the University’s rejection of terrorism, hate, and harassment.

“We can fan the flames of division and hatred that are roiling the world,” Gay said. “Or we can try to be a force for something different and better.”

In the speech, Gay reiterated the University’s commitment to free expression, though she did not specifically refer to the student groups that co-signed the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee’s controversial statement on Israel.

“That commitment extends even to views that many of us find objectionable, even outrageous,” she said. “We do not punish or sanction people for expressing such views, but that is a far cry from endorsing them.”

The Palestine Solidarity Committee released a statement originally co-signed by more than other student organizations on Saturday that said “the apartheid regime is the only one to blame.”

“Today’s events did not occur in a vacuum,” the statement reads. “For the last two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in an open-air prison.”

The statement faced swift campus and national backlash, including from members of Congress and former University President Lawrence H. Summers, who also took aim at Harvard’s administration for remaining silent on the war in Israel and not condemning the PSC’s statement.

In a follow-up statement Wednesday, the PSC wrote that it “staunchly opposes all violence against all innocent life.”

Gay — alongside 17 University leaders — wrote a statement to Harvard affiliates Monday evening, but critics immediately denounced the email for not forcefully condemning Hamas and anti-semitism. The next day, Gay released a second solo statement condemning Hamas and distancing Harvard from the PSC statement. Executive Vice President Meredith L. Weenick ’90 sent a Wednesday night email to students with resources for students facing online threats and harassment.

In her Thursday evening address — the University’s fourth public statement in as many days — Gay pushed back against criticisms that “inflame an already volatile situation on our campus.”

“We can issue public pronouncements declaring the rightness of our own points of view and vilify those who disagree, or we can choose to talk and to listen with care and humility, to seek deeper understanding, and to meet one another with compassion,” Gay said.

The video follows calls from the PSC for University leadership to “immediately and unequivocally condemn the harassment and intimidation of its students.”

Bill A. Ackman ’88, a hedge fund manager and prominent Harvard donor, issued some of the most forceful demands for the University to name and shame the students affiliated with the statement.

“I have been asked by a number of CEOs if @harvard would release a list of the members of each of the Harvard organizations that have issued the letter assigning sole responsibility for Hamas’ heinous acts to Israel, so as to insure that none of us inadvertently hire any of their members,” Ackman wrote in a Tuesday post on X.

Students affiliated with the organizations that originally signed onto the Palestine Solidarity Committee’s statement faced numerous doxxing attacks throughout the week while several organizations removed their signatures from the statement. As of Tuesday, at least four online sites published the personal information of students linked to the clubs.

On Wednesday and Thursday, a truck with a digital billboard drove through the streets of Cambridge surrounding Harvard’s campus displaying the names and faces of students allegedly affiliated with the students groups who had signed onto the PSC statement.

Gay concluded her message by urging Harvard affiliates to meet this moment “with grace.”

“It’s in the exercise of our freedom to speak that we reveal our characters and we reveal the character of our institution,” Gay said. “How we go forward as a community is up to each of us.”



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Harvey Weinstein's ex-lawyer loses position at Harvard despite bowing out of case

Ronald Sullivan was protested by students at the Massachusetts college.

May 11, 2019

In response to an uproar on campus, Harvard University decided this weekend to remove law professor Ron Sullivan from a dean's post after Sullivan had signed on as a member of the team defending disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Ironically, Harvard's decision comes just a day after Sullivan told the Manhattan judge overseeing Weinstein's case that Sullivan would, in fact, be leaving the defense team.

Sullivan's notice to the court is due to be made public Monday.

The lawyer and his wife, Stephanie Robinson, who also works at the school, will not be renewed as deans at Harvard's Winthrop House once their terms expire next month.

Sullivan's decision has no impact on Jose Baez, the noted criminal lawyer now leading Weinstein's defense, or the rest of the team. Sullivan is a noted expert on criminal law and criminal procedure and is director of the Harvard Criminal Justice Institute.

Weinstein spokesman Juda Engelmayer told ABC News Saturday evening that Weinstein "is extremely grateful to Ronald Sullivan for his work with him until now, and for Ron's offer to advise where he can going forward."

"Mr. Sullivan believed that Mr. Weinstein deserved a vigorous defense, and it is a sad moment for us all right now," Engelmayer said. "We, as a country, have now reached the point when a Harvard lawyer and professor cannot serve his duty to, and belief in, the law and defend a person who may be deemed unpopular or unworthy of a legal defense by segments of the public."

The Harvard Crimson, the college's newspaper, was the first to report on Sullivan's exit.

The Harvard Black Law Students Association supported Sullivan's decision to represent Weinstein, saying in a statement released March 31, "HBLSA finds it important that we speak to the controversy and make the ask of Harvard University to both unequivocally support survivors of sexual violence and to do so in a way that does not scapegoat Professor Sullivan for the University’s failings to address sexual violence on campus."

Weinstein is due to go on trial in September on charges of rape and sexual assault. He was arrested nearly a year ago and is out on bail.

He is set to go on trial on accusations made by two women in New York, but has been accused of improper conduct by dozens of other women over decades.

Weinstein, 66, has been investigated by the New York City Police Department, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the New York Attorney General’s Office, the Los Angeles Police Department and U.K. authorities.

He has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.



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I don't think that the students did anything that they can be disciplined for.  They did use poor judgment and their judgment should be questioned with regard to their positions on campus, but discipline is another matter.

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From 2017







Harvard Rescinds Acceptances for At Least Ten Students for Obscene Memes

June 5, 2017

By Hannah Natanson, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard College rescinded admissions offers to at least ten prospective members of the Class of 2021 after the students traded sexually explicit memes and messages that sometimes targeted minority groups in a private Facebook group chat.

A handful of admitted students formed the messaging group—titled, at one point, “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens”—on Facebook in late December, according to two incoming freshmen.

In the group, students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children, according to screenshots of the chat obtained by The Crimson. Some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines directed at specific ethnic or racial groups. One called the hypothetical hanging of a Mexican child “piñata time.”

After discovering the existence and contents of the chat, Harvard administrators revoked admissions offers to at least ten participants in mid-April, according to several members of the group. University officials have previously said that Harvard’s decision to rescind a student’s offer is final.

College spokesperson Rachael Dane wrote in an emailed statement Saturday that “we do not comment publicly on the admissions status of individual applicants.”

The chat grew out of a roughly 100-member messaging group that members of the Class of 2021 set up in early December to share memes about popular culture. Admitted students found and contacted each other using the official Harvard College Class of 2021 Facebook group.

“A lot of students were excited about forming group chats with people who shared similar interests,” Jessica Zhang ’21, an incoming freshman who joined both chats, wrote in an email. “Someone posted about starting a chat for people who liked memes.”

Messages shared in the original group were mostly “lighthearted,” wrote Zhang, who said she did not post in the splitoff meme group and that her admission offer was not rescinded. But some members soon suggested forming “a more R-rated” meme chat, according to Cassandra Luca ’21, who joined the first meme group but not the second, and who also said her offer was not revoked.

Luca said the founders of the “dark” group chat demanded that students post provocative memes in the larger messaging group before allowing them to join the splinter group.

“They were like, ‘Oh, you have to send a meme to the original group to prove that you could get into the new one,’” Luca said. “This was a just-because-we-got-into-Harvard-doesn’t-mean-we-can’t-have-fun kind of thing.”

Employees in the Admissions Office emailed students who posted offensive memes in mid-April asking them to disclose every picture they sent over the group, according to one member of the chat whose admission offer was revoked. The student spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be publicly identified with the messages.

“The Admissions Committee was disappointed to learn that several students in a private group chat for the Class of 2021 were sending messages that contained offensive messages and graphics,” reads a copy of the Admissions Office’s email obtained by The Crimson. “As we understand you were among the members contributing such material to this chat, we are asking that you submit a statement by tomorrow at noon to explain your contributions and actions for discussion with the Admissions Committee.”

“It is unfortunate that I have to reach out about this situation,” the email reads.

The anonymous student also said that administrators informed implicated students that their admissions status was under review and instructed them not to come to Visitas, Harvard’s annual weekend of programming for prospective freshmen held at the end of April. Roughly a week later, at least ten members of the group chat received letters informing them that their offers of admission had been withdrawn.

The description for the official Facebook group for the Class of 2021, set up and maintained by the Admissions Office, disclaims all administrative responsibility for “unofficial groups” and warns members their admissions offers can be rescinded under specific circumstances.

“As a reminder, Harvard College reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission under various conditions including if an admitted student engages in behavior that brings into question his or her honesty, maturity, or moral character,” the description reads.

Luca said she had mixed feelings about the administration’s move to revoke admissions offers. She said she was “going back and forth” on the matter.

“On the one hand, I think people can post whatever they want because they have the right to do that,” Luca said. “I don’t think the school should have gone in and rescinded some offers because it wasn’t Harvard-affiliated, it was people doing stupid stuff.”

She added, though, that if memes sent over the chat posed any kind of threat to members’ lives or well-being, then she believed administrators’ actions were justified.

Other members of the Class of 2021 said they strongly supported the Admissions Office’s decision. Zhang wrote that she thought the students’ actions were indefensible, and that the administration was correct in choosing to penalize those who posted obscene images.

“I appreciate humor, but there are so many topics that just should not be joked about,” Zhang wrote. “I respect the decision of the admissions officers to rescind the offers because those actions really spoke about the students’ true characters.”

“I do not know how those offensive images could be defended,” she added.

Wyatt Hurt ’21, who said he did not participate in either meme chat, agreed and said he was glad administrators took action.

“I haven’t seen any of the stuff firsthand, but I definitely think that the administration made the right choice and I think that as an incoming student—we all have our group chats and everything like that going on—we all pretty much universally agree it was the right decision,” he said.

Hurt added that he recently attended several scholarship conferences and that students he met at those events—many of whom he said planned to matriculate at Ivy League schools—also agreed that “rescinding was definitely the way to go.”

This incident marks the second time in two years that Harvard has dealt with a situation where incoming freshmen exchanged offensive messages online. Last spring, some admitted members of the Class of 2020 traded jokes about race and mocked feminists in an unofficial class GroupMe chat, prompting Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 to issue a joint statement condemning the students’ actions.

“Harvard College and the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid were troubled and disappointed to see a conversation that included graphics with offensive themes,” Khurana and Fitzsimmons wrote in their statement, which they posted on the Class of 2020’s Facebook page.

But administrators chose not to discipline members of the Class of 2020 who authored the messages. Then-Interim Dean of Student Life Thomas A. Dingman ’67 said in an interview at the time that the individuals in question were “not matriculated students at this point.”

Harvard admitted 5.2 percent of applicants to the Class of 2021, accepting 2,056 of the nearly 40,000 total applicants. Roughly 84 percent of students invited to join the class accepted their offer, marking the highest yield rate in recent memory.


Had only they waited to post this stuff after they started attending classes



Edited by Auburn85
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