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U.S. Representative Elise M. Stefanik ’06 (R-N.Y.) was removed from the Institute of Politics’s Senior Advisory Committee Tuesday morning, Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf announced in a letter sent to members of the committee.
The decision comes after hundreds of Harvard affiliates circulated a petition last week calling on the IOP to sever ties with Stefanik for “improperly challenging” the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win and “enabling violence” during Wednesday’s riot in Washington, D.C. that left five people dead.
Elmendorf wrote that his decision to remove Stefanik from the committee, which he made in consultation with IOP Director Mark D. Gearan ’78, was not related to “political parties, political ideology, or her choice of candidate for president,” but rather her false claims of voter fraud.
“In my assessment, Elise has made public assertions about voter fraud in November’s presidential election that have no basis in evidence, and she has made public statements about court actions related to the election that are incorrect,” Elmendorf wrote. “These assertions and statements do not reflect policy disagreements but bear on the foundations of the electoral process through which this country’s leaders are chosen.”
Elmendorf also wrote that he provided Stefanik the opportunity to step down from the committee, but she refused.
“In my conversation with Elise, she declined to step aside, and I told her that I would therefore remove her from the IOP’s Senior Advisory Committee at this time,” he wrote.
In a statement posted to her Twitter account, Stefanik decried the decision as “Harvard’s Bowing to the Far-Left.” She wrote that she believes her removal from the leadership committee sends a message to conservative students that Harvard does not respect their views.
“The decision by Harvard’s administration to cower and cave to the woke Left will continue to erode diversity of thought, public discourse, and ultimately the student experience,” she wrote. “The Ivory Tower’s march toward a monoculture of like-minded, intolerant liberal views demonstrates the sneering disdain for everyday Americans and will instill a culture of fear for students who will understand that a conservative viewpoint will not be tolerated and will be silenced.”
“Congratulations Harvard, the entire Board of the Institute of Politics now consists of only Joe Biden voters - how reflective of America,” Stefanik added.
HKS spokesperson James F. Smith declined to comment further on Stefanik's removal.
In his letter, Elmendorf acknowledged Stefanik’s “important contributions” to the IOP during her undergraduate years as a student leader and, after, as a mentor.
“I know that we are grateful for her long and committed service,” he wrote.
The authors of the petition calling for Stefanik’s removal, Megan O. Corrigan ’16 and Jacob R. Carrel ’16, wrote in an email that they believe the IOP’s action on Tuesday strengthens democracy.
“We’re very thankful that we can say that no insurrectionist will be held up as a role model at the IOP,” they wrote. “We support free speech and the free exchange of ideas, and we’re proud that the IOP will continue to uphold those values while standing up for truth and democracy. Harvard is a stronger institution because of today’s decision.”
—Staff writer Alex M. Koller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @alexmkoller.
—Staff writer Taylor C. Peterman can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @taylorcpeterman.
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