Harvard Graduate Slams University Over Barred Pro-Palestine Students

Harvard Graduate Slams University Over Barred Pro-Palestine Students

Harvard Graduate Slams University

During Harvard University‘s commencement ceremony, graduating student Shruthi Kumar deviated from her prepared remarks to condemn the university’s treatment of students protesting against what they describe as a genocide being carried out by Israel in Gaza. Kumar’s speech highlighted the plight of 13 undergraduates from the class of 2024 who were barred from graduating due to their involvement in pro-Palestine protests.

“As I stand here today, I must take a moment to recognize my peers – the 13 undergraduates in the class of 2024 that will not graduate today,” Kumar stated, addressing a captivated audience. Her remarks, which criticized the university’s stance on free speech and civil disobedience, resonated with many students. Over 1,000 attendees staged a walkout in solidarity, waving Palestinian flags and banners calling for an end to what they termed genocide.

The incident followed the Harvard Corporation’s decision to halt the graduation of the 13 students, despite a majority of the university’s faculty of arts and sciences voting in favor of conferring their degrees. The students were punished for participating in protests on campus, according to a report by the Harvard Crimson.

Originally, Kumar’s speech was to focus on “The Power of Not Knowing,” encouraging graduates to embrace uncertainty as they transition from university life. However, she used the platform to address the controversial disciplinary actions and broader issues of censorship at Harvard. “I am deeply disappointed by the intolerance for freedom of speech and the right to civil disobedience on campus,” she declared, receiving widespread applause and a standing ovation.

Maria Ressa, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the headlining commencement speaker, echoed Kumar’s sentiments. She cautioned Harvard against silencing student voices. “Harvard, you are being tested,” Ressa said. “The campus protests are testing everyone in America. Protests give voice; they shouldn’t be silenced.”

This controversy at Harvard reflects a broader trend of increasing tensions and crackdowns on pro-Palestine protests at universities across the United States. Recently, police intervened in demonstrations at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where at least six student protesters were arrested.

The remarks by Kumar and Ressa highlight the ongoing debate over academic freedom, the right to protest, and the university’s role in addressing global issues. The situation continues to evolve as students and faculty members navigate these complex and contentious issues.

Related: Teaching Staff Join Student Sit-In at Leuven University

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