Harvard Students Denied Degrees Over Palestine Protest

Harvard Students Denied Degrees Over Palestine Protest

Harvard Students Denied Degrees Over Palestine Protest

Harvard University made a decision that made many people angry. They will delay giving diplomas for one year to 13 students who are graduating. These students were involved in a three-week protest camp supporting Palestine at the university last month. The decision was made by the Harvard Corporation, which is the top governing group at the university. 

One of the affected students is Asmer Assar Safi from Pakistan. He was supposed to get his degree in social studies and ethnicity, migration and rights at Harvard College. However, he still has not received his degree.

Future Plans Affected

The decision has affected the future plans of many students. Safi, who is a Rhodes Scholar, is trying to find out if he can attend the University of Oxford since his Harvard degree has been withheld for a year, even though he has completed all the requirements.

Shraddha Joshi, another student impacted from Texas, was planning to get a master’s degree in the study of society in the United Kingdom. However, her plans are now unsure.

Academic Freedom and Protest Rights

Like many other universities in the United States, Harvard has found itself caught up in an increasingly angry debate about academic freedom and the right to protest over the ongoing war in Gaza. Students across the country have been protesting and demanding that their universities divest from companies linked to or doing business with Israel.

At Harvard, the protest encampment began on April 24, with students demanding that the university disclose its investments in companies linked to Israel and divest from those companies. After negotiations, the encampment was disbanded on May 14, with the university agreeing to begin reinstating students who had been placed on “involuntary leave” and offer a meeting with governing boards about divestment.

Broken Promises and Continued Discipline

However, the protesters say that the university did not keep its promises. Instead of reinstating the students, Harvard continued to discipline them in unprecedented ways. Joshi, who was not a camper but acted as a liaison, was among the group of students placed on “involuntary leave” and asked to leave the campus. Despite the university’s promise to reinstate those students, she was told that she would be on probation until May 2025, with her degree withheld until then.

Protesting Harassment and Discrimination

The protesters say that the emergence of the solidarity encampment was not an isolated event. They had been organizing various events, vigils, and awareness campaigns on campus, even before the war in Gaza escalated. They claim that they faced a large amount of harassment and pressure from counter-protesters, with their faces and identities being posted on social media accounts opposed to the protests.

Calls for Transparency and Change

The protesters believe that the decision to establish an encampment was in line with other protest movements on Harvard’s campus in the past, including protests that called for divestment from apartheid South Africa in the 1980s. They say that the university’s unwillingness to initiate conversations on the issue led to the establishment of the encampment, and they have only seen the repression worsen since then.

They are calling for transparency and change from the university administration, saying that students do not protest without reason and that their voices should be heard.

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