Harvard Surrenders to Anti-Israel Protesters, Will Reinstate Suspended Students and Discuss Divestment

The weeks-long occupation has come to an end, but not without a lengthy list of demands from the demonstrators.

AP/Ben Curtis
Students protesting against the war in Gaza, and passersby walking through Harvard Yard, are seen at an encampment at Harvard University at Cambridge, on April 25, 2024. AP/Ben Curtis

A three-week occupation of Harvard Yard has come to an end after the school announced it had reached an agreement with the protesters on Tuesday. 

The university’s president, Alan Garber, wrote that he will be meeting with school officials “to address questions about the endowment” and will meet with students to “hear their perspectives on academic matters related to longstanding conflicts in the Middle East.” 

Though the encampment area is being cleared, the student protesters are showing no signs of caving on their demands of the university. 

“As a precondition for decamping, administration will retract suspensions. Administration has also offered us meetings regarding disclosure and divestment with members of the Harvard Management Company and ‘conversations’ regarding the establishment of a Center for Palestine Studies at Harvard,” the organizers for Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine, known as HOOP, wrote on the group’s Instagram page. 

The coalition said that the occupation in Harvard Yard was aimed at being a “model of the world we want to see” and issued a warning to Harvard that the “Liberated Zone is everywhere.” 

“Every day we sustained the encampment — beyond the last day of classes, finals week, move-out — has been a day where we strengthened our organizing capacity, built networks of solidarity, and forced the question of Palestine on an institution that has historically refused it,” the coalition wrote, adding that the group has decided the encampment tactic’s utility had “passed” but that they would “re-group and carry out this protracted struggle through other means.” 

Harvard’s president said that with “the disruption to the educational environment caused by the encampment now abated,” he would ask the university’s various schools to “promptly initiate applicable reinstatement proceedings for all individuals who have been placed on involuntary leaves of absence.”

He also asked each school’s disciplinary boards to “evaluate expeditiously” the cases of the individuals who participated in the occupation. 

“I acknowledge the profound grief that many in our community feel over the tragic effects of the ongoing war,” he wrote, adding that there will continue to be deep disagreements over  “as we experience pain and distress over events in the wider world.”

The university’s concession letter comes as a new Hillel International poll out this week indicates that a majority of Jewish students across the country have felt “less safe” because of the encampments at their school and witnessed “antisemitic, threatening or derogatory language toward Jewish students during those protests”

Jewish students say the “campus protests and encampments have had a detrimental impact on their ability to learn, study, and even attend class,” the poll notes, with 6 in 10 Jewish students reporting that the occupations have made it harder for them to learn, and more than half having classes canceled, moved online, or interrupted by the protesters.


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