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Updated: November 22, 2023, at 1:39 p.m.
Eight undergraduates are facing disciplinary hearings before the Harvard College Administrative Board over their participation in last week’s 24-hour occupation of University Hall, several of the students confirmed during a protest at Massachusetts Hall Monday afternoon.
Protesters at the rally on Monday — including some students who participated in the occupation — delivered a letter addressed to Harvard President Claudine Gay that stated several demands, including that the University commit to not pursuing disciplinary action against “pro-Palestinian students and workers engaging in non-violent protest.”
The Ad Board is responsible for the application and enforcement of Harvard College policies and is chaired by Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana. Students facing Ad Board disciplinary hearings can receive a range of consequences, from a warning to probation to required withdrawal.
A ninth student protester is facing a hearing over the occupation under the Administrative Board of the Harvard Divinity School, which operates under similar principles.
The letter delivered to Gay’s office — which was co-signed by 50 student organizations from Harvard, MIT, Emerson, Tufts, and others — follows two instances of Harvard initiating disciplinary proceedings against students who participated in pro-Palestine demonstrations.
In addition to the students facing Ad Board hearings, Elom Tettey-Tamaklo — a Harvard College proctor — was indefinitely suspended from his role earlier this month after he was involved in a confrontation at a pro-Palestine protest.
The letter called on Harvard to disclose and divest from any investments in “internationally recognized illegal settlements in Palestine” and to reinstate Tettey-Tamaklo as proctor. A separate petition calling for his reinstatement has received more than 6,000 signatures, more than 2,000 of which came on Monday.
Monday’s protest was organized by the African and African American Resistance Organization, a student organization not officially recognized by the College, and Harvard BDS, an unofficial pro-Palestine caucus of the Harvard Graduate Students Union-United Auto Workers.
Harvard University spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain confirmed that Gay’s office received the protesters’ letter, but declined to comment on its contents or on criticisms of Harvard from the rally.
Harvard Jews for Palestine, an unrecognized student group, staged the University Hall occupation. The students demanded an immediate call by Harvard’s administration for a ceasefire, increased support for pro-Palestine students, and a statement from the University asserting that anti-Zionism and antisemitism are not the same.
“On Friday, we left University Hall with the same three demands, which remain utterly unanswered by our cowardly administration,” said Violet T.M. Barron ’26, who participated in the University Hall sit-in. “So to the Harvard administration, I hope this rally is proof enough that for every time you do not listen, we will come back 10 times louder.”
Barron, a Crimson Editorial editor, said she will appear on Tuesday before the Ad Board.
“Tomorrow, I will not walk into my Ad Board meeting with fear, but with a whole lot of faith — faith in the power of solidarity and the capability of student organizing,” she added.
Harvard College spokesperson Jonathan Palumbo declined to comment on whether the students will face disciplinary hearings, citing a policy of not commenting on student and personnel matters.
On Thursday morning, Barron and roughly 11 other pro-Palestine student protesters began occupying the basement of University Hall.
Approximately 12 hours into the occupation, Khurana met with the students and offered them the chance to end their protest without facing disciplinary action. After Khurana said he could not meet their demands, the students decided to remain inside overnight.
“What did we come here for? We came here to get fucking arrested or Ad-Boarded if our demands weren’t met,” one of the protesters occupying University Hall said in a speech announcing their decision to continue the protest.
The protest at Massachusetts Hall preceded the beginning of the University’s Thanksgiving recess and capped off an active six weeks of campus organizing following Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
“We’re giving you a good break, we’re giving you a couple of days to sit on it, a couple days to get a response,” AFRO co-founder Kojo Acheampong ’26 said at the rally.
“Just know when we come back, and if our demands are not met, we raise hell,” he added.
Correction: November 22, 2023
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that nine undergraduates were facing the Harvard College Ad Board over the University Hall occupation. In fact, only eight of the students who participated overnight were undergraduates.
—Staff writer J. Sellers Hill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on X @SellersHill.
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