Harvard College Dean Khurana Stresses Value of Intellectual Vitality, Condemns Doxxings Amid Campus Turmoil
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Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana condemned student doxxings and stressed the importance of free idea exchange amid a period of campus turmoil around the ongoing violence in Israel and Gaza in a Friday interview with The Crimson.
Khurana also addressed criticisms of Harvard’s response to the conflict and stressed the value of higher education in the face of national backlash.
In recent weeks, the University has been a subject of national attention after the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee published a statement saying they “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence” after Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel. The PSC later wrote that it “staunchly opposes violence against civilians.”
The statement, which was originally co-signed by 33 other Harvard student groups, was widely criticized by students, alumni, faculty, and prominent public figures, including former Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers.
In the weeks following the statement’s publication, some students allegedly affiliated with signatory organizations faced online doxxing, with identifying information and photographs posted on websites and social media. A truck circled campus, calling some students “Harvard’s Leading Antisemites” and displaying their names and faces.
Khurana called the attacks “deplorable and despicable” and expressed his concerns about the “chilling effect” that retaliation has on campus discourse.
“We already have challenges in which people are self-censoring, or avoiding talking about complex topics,” Khurana said. “We need to make sure that our classrooms, our research spaces are places where we can tackle complex issues, and people can thoughtfully raise questions.”
Khurana also reiterated that the College is prioritizing student safety and had reached out to those targeted by the doxxing attacks.
“We have taken a number of steps working in coordination with the University to ensure their safety,” Khurana said of doxxed students.
“We also want to make it very clear that antisemitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and discrimination of any type will not be tolerated,” he added. “Hate has no place on this campus.”
Last month, The Crimson reported that the College had established a task force out of the Dean of Students Office to support doxxed students. Harvard also formed an advisory group of administrators and scholars to combat antisemitism on campus.
“We are finding that, often, the best way to respond to students is through a highly individualized approach,” Khurana said.
Khurana said he believes the task of higher education institutions to be an environment for open dialogue on sensitive topics is a “moral position.” Earlier this year, The Crimson reported that Khurana facilitated an “Intellectual Vitality Committee” composed of Harvard undergraduates, faculty, and alumni to discuss a perceived lack of free idea exchange at the College.
“Having a commitment to the search for truth — to recognizing that different facts and perspectives and points of view help us get a more accurate picture and can also point to ways forward — is a unique position that we occupy,” Khurana said. “We have to hold fast to those values.”
“Those values are under pressure right now,” he added.
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