“Harvard always demonstrated that it understood its responsibility to defend protected student speech. That was always made clear to us,” the club wrote in a second email.
Extension School Dean of Students and Alumni Affairs Robert H. Neugeboren '83 also said in a statement after the relocation announcement but before the postponement that the Extension School “is grateful the student group has recognized the strong concerns expressed by members of the Harvard community and beyond.”
The proposed reenactment had received sharp condemnation by the Archdiocese of Boston, the Harvard Chaplains, a group of religious and spiritual leaders on campus, and several student groups.
In a statement released online on Monday, Faust affirmed the University’s commitment to free expression, noting that the club would be afforded the decision to proceed with the re-enactment, although she did deplore the event as offensive.
The Cultural Studies Club still said it was dismayed by harsh and widespread criticism of the event.
“While it is unfortunate that many people took personal offense at rituals for which they have little or no understanding of their context, what we find most disturbing have been the demands that the rituals and beliefs of marginalized members of society be silenced,” the club wrote in the emailed statement. “It is gravely upsetting to us that some people feel vindicated on the basis that they have disingenuously mischaracterized our invited guests as being part of a hate group.”
—Staff writer Theodore R. Delwiche can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on twitter @trdelwic.
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