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Four Harvard Undergrads Face Disciplinary Action Surrounding Pro-Palestine ‘Week of Action’

Pro-Palestine activists organized a walkout as part of a "week of action" in November.
Pro-Palestine activists organized a walkout as part of a "week of action" in November. By Frank S. Zhou
By Cam E. Kettles and Joyce E. Kim, Crimson Staff Writers

Four undergraduates are facing new disciplinary actions before the Harvard College Administrative Board after leading or participating in a pro-Palestine “week of action” in late November.

The Ad Board, chaired by Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana, is responsible for the application and enforcement of College policies. Ad Board hearings can result in students receiving warnings, probations, or required withdrawals. In mid-November, eight undergraduates affiliated with Harvard Jews for Palestine faced Ad Board hearings after participating in a 24-hour occupation of University Hall.

The November week of action — jointly organized by the African and African American Resistance Organization and rank-and-file members of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions caucus of Harvard’s graduate student union — included a rally and a walkout.

During the walkout on Nov. 29, AFRO organizers Prince A. Williams ’25 and Kojo Acheampong ’26 entered and led students out of classrooms, chanting with megaphones, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” and “free, free Palestine.”

According to the University Statement on Rights and Responsibilities, building occupations or actions that hinder the “ability of members of the University to perform their normal activities constitutes unacceptable conduct in violation of the Statement and is subject to appropriate discipline.”

During a Sunday rally organized by a coalition of pro-Palestine groups, Williams and Acheampong said they were facing Ad Board hearings related to their activism.

“We understand that this University is trying to attack students,” Acheampong said during the rally.

“But we know that that’s not gonna stop us,” Acheampong added. “We will never, ever, ever let these attacks get in the way of our solidarity with the Palestinian people. We understand that this Ad Boarding, these attacks, simply justify why we’re in this struggle.”

Harvard College spokesperson Jonathan Palumbo declined to comment on criticisms from protesters and their cases, citing a policy against commenting on student matters.

While three of the four students were informed of disciplinary proceedings during the week of action, the latest case — against week of action participant Syd D. Sanders ’24 — came on Friday, more than a week after the demonstrations.

Unlike Williams and Acheampong, who were both central organizers in the week of action, Sanders wrote in a statement that he did not play an organizational role and is not a member of AFRO or Harvard BDS.

“I was not involved in planning or organizing the walkout, and I did not disrupt any classes or break any school rules that I am aware of. I simply walked out of a lecture at 11:30 and attended the consequent rally in the plaza. I did not speak on any megaphones, lead any chants, or say anything in the lecture,” Sanders wrote.

Sanders was also informed of the case against him three days after Harvard President Claudine Gay testified before Congress on Tuesday.

During the testimony, Gay said the University would not take action against student protesters unless their speech “crosses into conduct.” She drew criticism and faced calls to resign for her response to a line of questioning about whether speech that calls for the genocide of Jews violates Harvard policies.

“It feels as though the school is caving to the pressure of right-wing politicians to discipline peaceful pro-Palestinian speech and protest on Harvard’s campus by targeting outspoken pro-Palestinian voices like mine,” Sanders wrote.

Clarification: December 11, 2023

This article has been updated to clarify that students were informed directly of the cases rather than through an announcement.

—Staff writer Cam E. Kettles can be reached at cam.kettles@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @cam_kettles or on Threads @camkettles.

—Staff writer Joyce E. Kim can be reached at joyce.kim@thecrimson.com.

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CollegeCollege AdministrationPoliticsProtestsFront Middle FeatureIsrael Palestine

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