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Harvard Suspends Palestine Solidarity Committee Amid Wave of Protests on College Campuses

Harvard College suspended the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee on Monday amid a wave of pro-Palestine protests on college campuses.
Harvard College suspended the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee on Monday amid a wave of pro-Palestine protests on college campuses. By Julian J. Giordano
By Michelle N. Amponsah and Joyce E. Kim, Crimson Staff Writers

Updated April 22, 2024, at 11:57 p.m.

Harvard College suspended the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and ordered the group to “cease all organizational activities for the remainder of the Spring 2024 term” or risk permanent expulsion, according to an email obtained by The Crimson.

The suspension comes amid a wave of pro-Palestine student demonstrations across the country, with students staging occupations at universities including Columbia and Yale Universities. Though there have not been occupations at Harvard this semester, the University restricted access to Harvard Yard on Sunday in anticipation of student protests.

The PSC was one of several student organizations, including some unrecognized student organizations, to stage a rally in Harvard Yard on Friday in solidarity with student activists at Columbia, more than 100 of whom were arrested on Thursday by the New York City Police Department.

During the rally, attendees marched and chanted outside the offices of administrators in the Yard, concluding on the steps of Widener Library.

The group also found itself at the center of controversy in the immediate aftermath of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, when the PSC published a statement co-signed by more than 30 other student groups that stated it held “the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence” from Hamas’ attack.

In an email to the PSC, the College specifically cited Friday’s protest when informing the group of its suspension for the remainder of the spring semester, noting that the group had failed to register the demonstration and violated protest guidelines regarding responsible use of space.

The group had previously been placed on probation by the College in March, according to the email.

“The organization will not be recognized and will not have access to university benefits and services during this time, including but not limited to use of campus space and appropriate use of the Harvard name,” the email stated. “If the organization continues to operate and commits additional violations during this suspension, the organization risks permanent expulsion, as provided in the Resource Guide.”

In a message in a group chat of pro-Palestine organizers obtained by The Crimson, one organizer wrote that the PSC was suspended over their collaboration with unrecognized groups including Jews for Palestine, which staged an occupation of University Hall in November.

College spokesperson Jonathan Palumbo wrote in a statement that Harvard “works closely with our recognized independent student organizations to ensure they are following existing policies outlined in the Student Organization Resource Guide and all College and University expectations.”

“The College is committed to applying all policies in a content-neutral manner and in close partnership with our student organizations,” Palumbo added. “All student organizations are required to participate annually in training on these policies, and any organization found in violation of the policy is subject to corrective action.”

The PSC released a statement Monday afternoon which stated that the organization’s suspension comes after “months of administrative repression, harassment and stalking by our own peers, and intimidation from right-wing politicians and donors.”

“After standing idly by as pro-Palestine students faced physical and cyber harassment, death threats and rape threats, and racist doxxing, Harvard has now decided to dismantle the only official student group dedicated to the task of representing the Palestinian cause,” the statement reads.

The Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine wrote that they were “outraged” by the suspension in an Instagram post Monday evening denouncing the decision.

FSJP called on Harvard to “reinstate the PSC immediately.”

The post stated that the University “has summarily disposed of academic freedom and constitutionally protected freedoms of dissent in an effort to silence students speaking out about apartheid, occupation and genocide.”

Harvard’s student organization policies state that “student organizations may not co-sponsor on-campus events with external or unrecognized organizations.”

“For the past 6 months, PSC has faced unprecedented repression — doxxing, racist harassment, and targeted administrative crackdowns — as we’ve protested the ongoing genocide in Gaza,” the PSC wrote on Instagram. “After being placed on an illegitimate and retroactive probation, PSC has been suspended.”

“We call on the Harvard community to fight against repression and join the movement for Palestinian liberation,” the post continued. “History is watching you.”

In January, interim President Alan M. Garber ’76 and 15 top deans sent a University-wide email emphasizing the protest guidelines in the University-wide Statement on Rights and Responsibilities.

In the email informing the PSC of its suspension, the College stated that the group has until Wednesday at 5 p.m. to appeal the decision to Associate Dean of Student Engagement Jason Meier.

The PSC will also be able to apply for reinstatement at the beginning of the fall 2024 semester if it abides by the terms of its suspension, according to the email.

—Staff writer Michelle N. Amponsah can be reached at michelle.amponsah@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @mnamponsah.

—Staff writer Joyce E. Kim can be reached at joyce.kim@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X at @joycekim324.

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