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Harvard Students Face Court Date Over Confrontation at HBS ‘Die-In’ for Palestine

Protesters block an HBS student as he films protesters lying on the ground at an Oct. 18 pro-Palestine "die-in." The student has accused at least two protesters of assault.
Protesters block an HBS student as he films protesters lying on the ground at an Oct. 18 pro-Palestine "die-in." The student has accused at least two protesters of assault. By Frank S. Zhou
By Emma H. Haidar and Cam E. Kettles, Crimson Staff Writers

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik ’06 (R-N.Y.) accused Harvard of delaying “justice” for students involved in a confrontation during a pro-Palestine protest at Harvard Business School in October, according to a letter sent to University leadership Thursday morning.

In her letter, Stefanik revealed that the two students who allegedly assaulted an Israeli first-year HBS student during the protest could face criminal charges at court hearings in May.

At an Oct. 18 “die-in” protest, the first-year HBS student began filming demonstrators’ faces as they laid on the ground. Some protesters held up security vests and keffiyehs — a traditional Palestinian headscarf — to prevent the student from filming and came into physical contact with him.

The FBI opened an investigation into the incident days after the confrontation occurred. In her letter, which was addressed to interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber ’76 and Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow Penny S. Pritzker ’81, Stefanik accused the University of stalling the investigation.

“Justice for this incident should have been served quickly, and the delay of justice that specifically allows an antisemitic student to graduate is an affront to accountability and demonstrates the cultural rot of Harvard University's leadership that has allowed antisemitism to continue,” she wrote.

The letter is the latest in a string of letters from members of Congress and congressional committees accusing Harvard of failing to adequately address campus antisemitism.

According to Stefanik’s letter, Harvard hired the law firm Jenner & Block to independently investigate the incident and that court dates for two students involved in the confrontation are currently being negotiated by local prosecutors.

The confrontation was filmed by observers and captured on aerial footage of the protest.

One of the protesters involved in the confrontation, Elom Tettey-Tamaklo, a second-year student at Harvard Divinity School, was indefinitely relieved from his duties as a Thayer Hall proctor in November following the event.

Former president Claudine Gay said at the time that the University would conduct its own probe after law enforcement agencies concluded their work. The launch of Harvard’s investigation indicates that the FBI is no longer looking into the matter, although no results have been publicly released.

Stefanik wrote that the “Clerk’s Hearing” — where a clerk assesses allegations of a misdemeanor crime against the accused before formally filing charges — had been postponed to May 7.

It is unclear what role Harvard had, if any, in the delay of the hearing. Stefanik did not provide any specific evidence in her letter.

Stefanik wrote that they delay would allow one of the students involved — Tettey-Tamaklo — to graduate this spring with a Harvard degree “despite having committed a well-documented antisemitic hate crime.”

Tettey-Tamaklo is expected to graduate from HDS in May 2025, according to the University’s alumni directory. It is unclear if the University is considering expulsion over the incident.

In response to the letter, Harvard University spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain wrote that “antisemitism has no place” at Harvard.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to combating antisemitism, in whatever form it manifests itself and our ongoing efforts to ensure that Jewish students feel safe, valued, and embraced at Harvard,” he added.

Stefanik’s letter comes after months of congressional scrutiny over the University’s response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and concerns of campus antisemitism. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce — of which Stefanik is a member — subpoenaed three top University officials two months ago and requested a number of internal documents.

While neither the University nor the committee had publicly released private documents submitted in response to the February subpoenas, Stefanik’s letter indicates the University submitted documents related to ongoing disciplinary procedures.

After the University submitted documents, Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) accused Harvard of “malfeasance” and said the committee would consider future action.

Over a month has passed since the committee raised the possibility of additional action, and a spokesperson for the committee declined to comment Thursday on where the investigation stands.

—Staff writer Emma H. Haidar can be reached at Follow her on X @HaidarEmma.

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

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