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Harvard’s Protests Hit Day Six: The Editors React, From Inside and Outside the Encampment


By Julian J. Giordano

From private, Ivy League universities to flagship public schools, pro-Palestine protests have again taken America’s colleges by storm and returned the spotlight to higher education.

As the distant punditry returns, too, we have a reminder: When everyone’s talking about universities, the best people to listen to are the students that attend them. To give our readers a sense of what Harvard is really like right now, we’ve asked our editors to contribute reflections on the encampment as it approaches its second week.

Some write from the encampment, others from outside, but — to a person — our editors have experienced firsthand what Harvard has been like since it formed.


I write from the encampment, where students and faculty gather in hopeful clusters and echoes of laughter cut through the night. Above it all, a keffiyeh-clad John Harvard gazes out from his post, and above him still, a supersized projection on the front of University Hall: “Free Gaza.”

We have been here for six days now, and it is here we will remain — until the University divests from the ongoing genocide and a decades-long occupation. Our ever-expanding physical presence is a testament to an ever-apparent collective understanding: We cannot, in good conscience, remain silent as Palestinian life is extinguished en masse, on Harvard’s dime.

Believe me when I say that our encampment is the best thing to happen to the Yard in a long time.

Believe me when I say that our encampment is necessary.

—Violet T.M. Barron ’26, Associate Editorial editor

As a freshman in the Yard, the buzz of tourists, grass-mowing, and church bells all do much more to disrupt my sleep and study than this encampment.

Beyond that, it’s clear that the encampment has done more to bridge communities across lines of faith, race, and identity than Harvard ever has. Students have flipped maqluba, hosted prayers, danced Dabke, and eaten Shabbat dinner. This encampment is the opposite of a bastion of hate — it is a hub of companionship and learning across difference, things Harvard typically invokes vainly before disregarding entirely.

I encourage those assessing the encampment to shy away from myopically focusing on questions of free speech. Protestors have made it clear that they’re willing to face consequences in pursuit of divestment. They have faced administrators with IDs raised high.

The central effort here is civil disobedience — opting to break the rules in light of a moral urgency.

—Zakiriya H. Gladney ’27, Crimson Editorial editor

Encamped protesters are attempting to crown themselves heirs to a noble lineage of commendable social movements — from civil rights in America to the campaign against apartheid in South Africa. Yet extrapolating from the similarities between today’s protest movements and those past to conclude that divestment from Israel is historically analogous is not only lazy and fallacious — it is flat-out wrong.

Israel’s war against Hamas remains justified. The current laws governing the West Bank, however unfortunate, do not amount to apartheid. A third intifada would result in the deaths of countless Israeli civilians. And Israel’s existence as a secure and free Jewish state is not up for debate.

Protesters can replicate the tactics of past activists all they want, but that does not change the fact that their demands are fundamentally wrong.

—Jacob M. Miller ’25, Crimson Editorial Chair

The very existence of the encampment, now in its sixth day, should dispel any notions of a so-called “Palestinian exception” to free speech on this campus. Frankly, I am puzzled about the origins of this idea, since I have been unwillingly subjected to an incessant barrage of calls to action for Palestine for months now. I imagine that the organizers of the encampment will cry suppression when the consequences of their actions finally catch up to them — i.e., when the encampment is dispersed and they face disciplinary action — but hopefully we will have enough sense then to see through their gross mischaracterizations.

Ironically, the only Palestinian exception that I have seen at Harvard is an exception from the rules that apply to everyone else. One can only hope that this exception ends soon.

—Henry P. Moss IV ’26, Crimson Editorial editor

I have never felt more pride in our student body or belief in the power of collective action to make change. Watching how everyone has stood up for what they believe in — risking police and administrative retaliation in the process — I have hope that Palestine may one day be free.

Harvard joins an international community of students and allies who are not comfortable living in a society that turns a blind eye to the inexcusable violence inflicted on Palestinians. The encampment calls attention to the ongoing violence against the Palestinian people and demands that Harvard take immediate action to stop being complicit in this genocide.

Harvard claims that it exists to educate the future citizen-leaders of the world. To that I say: Harvard, here are your citizen-leaders, taking charge to build the world they want to live in. How will Harvard react to the demands of the present? The students have made their choice.

—Hea Pushpraj ’25, Editorial Comp Director

Regardless of your position on the justice of the pro-Palestine cause, facts matter. As such, I feel compelled to say: Harvard simply isn’t invested in what Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine has termed “the ongoing genocide in Gaza, and the occupation of Palestine.”

The two figures that protesters cite to argue it is are telling.

The first is a 2020 Crimson analysis that revealed Harvard had nearly $200 million in investments tied to “Israeli settlements in Palestine.” What protesters conveniently leave out when they allude to it? That all but $300,000 of this sum is invested in Booking Holdings,’s parent company, whose few dozen listings in the West Bank and Gaza are totally immaterial to Israel’s conduct there.

The second (and seemingly more direct) figure is from a 2019 Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign report, which alleged that Harvard had $86,625 invested in four companies with links to the Israeli military — hardly enough to build half a fighter plane.

Some protesters, when I’ve made this point, argue that it’s the symbolism that matters. That it will inspire others. That it worked with South Africa.

If only history were that simple. Nothing about divestment is an inevitability. Ours is a different cultural and political moment than the 1980s, and Palestine is different from South Africa.

Hearing the righteous cries for an institution to divest from financial interests it doesn’t really have, I can’t help but wonder: Why not protest institutions that can actually do something about it?

—Tommy Barone ’25, Crimson Editorial Chair

Thus, encampment came to Harvard — and it lingered. The University is pushing through its sixth day of revived pro-Palestine demonstrations, still with no end in sight. But in Harvard Yard, the sun is shining, students are closing out the semester, and tensions look… surprisingly low?

For the time being, these protests are peaceful. Student demonstrators are engaging respectfully. They’ve abided by quiet hours, kept off sidewalks, worked diligently to keep on the right side of the law.

My life certainly hasn’t been upended. Administrators don’t seem to be feeling the heat either. Despite emphasizing University time, place, and manner policy, College Dean of Students Thomas Dunne’s emails betray a clear lack of urgency in addressing the encampment.

But is this kind of protest — safe and restrained — disruptive enough to achieve its ends? We’ll have to wait and see.

—Lorenzo Z. Ruiz ’27, Crimson Editorial editor

I am writing this snippet from the “Liberated Zone,” as a Palestinian who feels immense pride that my family in Palestine — who have been assaulted each day by Israeli attacks funded in part by Harvard — now feel heard. Seeing pictures of children after being raided by bombs, thanking us only motivates HOOP’s efforts to go further in their calls — making the encampment’s message grow stronger.

With its presence, the encampment has proven how pro-Palestinian protestors have learned the steadfastness from their siblings in Gaza to rebel against the school’s complicity in the repression of Palestinian heritage and joy. From maqluba-filled stomachs in the Yard to movie nights and teach-ins, the encampment has grown into something unworldly. The action has only brought divestment from Israeli apartheid, occupation, and genocide to the forefront and Harvard must deal with it immediately. Disclosure and divestment are now the campus’ responsibility.

—Mahmoud Al-Thabata ’27, Crimson Editorial editor

There are so many college-activist dopamine hits in this situation that it’s hard to know where to start. Youth rising up across the country to fight for what they perceive to be just? Ding! Rage against the stodgy machine? Ding! Striking visuals, communal activities, and a higher purpose? Ding, ding, ding!

Like it or not, this is the narrative that is defining these protests. Ideological opponents of the encampment need to realize that “time, place, and manner” objections fall flat when defiance of the rules is already part of the protesters’ argument. To them, the extremity of the crisis in Gaza dictates that “business as usual” can no longer continue.

On the other hand, protesters need to hear that criticisms of their demonstration are not only about dissatisfaction with the eyesores in the Yard, but also objections to, say, the idea that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza or that its actions undermine its right to exist — in other words, objections to the content of the speech rather than its legitimacy.

—Yona T. Sperling Milner ’27, Crimson Editorial editor

The national solidarity encampments for Gaza are a great display of power and moral clarity of the student movement.

I promise you, history will remember those of us who stood up against genocide and occupation just as fondly as those students who took on the U.S. war machine during Vietnam, engaged in direct actions against America’s Jim Crow laws, and fought bravely for an end to apartheid in South Africa. It’s not too late to be on the right side of history. The people of Palestine will be free. The only question is when.

—Prince A. Williams ’25, Crimson Editorial editor

I find it interesting that the administration keeps sending out emails emphasizing that the encampment is a violation of University policies and that participants will face disciplinary action and yet it’s done little concrete about it. I’m not calling for drastic action from the administration — I only note that there is an interesting disconnect between their words and their actions. They shouldn’t repeatedly emphasize the rules if they aren’t going to enforce them.

Also, on a lighter note, if I’m being honest, the Yard being closed is kind of nice. Poor tourists… but from my perspective, I wouldn’t entirely mind if they keep it this way.

—Rohan Nambiar ’27, Crimson Editorial editor

For the past week, I have routinely walked outside my dorm to see Harvard’s “Liberated Zone” bathed in both physical and metaphorical sunlight.

There, I have witnessed my friends and peers peacefully gathering to stand in solidarity with Palestine — they help each other clean, bring supplies, and provide educational resources. It is a center of campus unity, especially after many of the volunteers were the target of virulent doxxing over the last seven months.

Last Wed., one of the first things I did after witnessing the encampment’s erection was to deeply embrace one of my friends at the site. That embrace signifies the similarity between Harvard’s encampment and those around the country — it is a space to advocate, learn across differences, and open a dialogue.

—Jasmine N. Wynn ’27, Crimson Editorial editor

Several Harvard presidents have argued for the necessity of “wise restraints that make men free.” Content-neutral time, place, and manner restrictions enable civil discourse to flourish. The disruptive and rule-violating encampment flouts not only these restraints, but also seemingly disregards policies intended to keep our campus safe. Protesters engaged with a non-affiliate congressperson and a filmmaker on unauthorized visits into Harvard Yard while protester-appointed marshals restrict Harvard affiliates’ free access to the bounds of the encampment.

To some, their protests have disrupted Harvard Yard and their slogans could be construed as in favor of the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people, including chants for a global “Intifada revolution” and a sign in Arabic that read “From water to water, Palestine is Arab.” These statements can in no way be interpreted as advocating for peace. We need to renew our commitment to enforcing Harvard's wise restraints, disbanding the encampment, disciplining those involved, and returning the Yard to a place of civil discourse and order.

—Alexander L.S. Bernat ’25, Crimson Editorial editor

The encampment situation is a real catch-22 for administrators. There’s no better way to guarantee Israel-Palestine becoming the defining issue of this generation than daring the administration to use excessive force against students.

Admin may be hoping to wait it out, but pressure from donors and affiliates to act is clearly mounting. Raising the Palestinian flag above Harvard Yard made the University look especially weak. Endgame will seemingly be Commencement.

There’s been complete failure to establish deterrence thus far — it’s useless to keep sending warnings without follow-through. However, the heavy-handed reaction to the Vietnam War protesters’ 1969 occupation of University Hall by former President Nathaniel M. Pusey ’28 likely culminated in his resignation, so even from a self-interested perspective, admin is right to be wary.

Assuming the protesters are true to their word and will remain until Harvard divests, everything admin does plays directly into their hands. According to their demands, achieving peaceful dispersal sans divestment is impossible.

Finally, although it’s clearly the smart thing to do from the position of the protesters, the irony of deliberately breaking the rules while accusing the University of suppression isn’t lost on me.

—Isaac Mansell ’26, Crimson Editorial editor

Harvard Yard has taken on a new look, and I think it’s beautiful.

Like many other campuses nationwide and internationally, our “Liberated Zone” was born out of a broader movement for disclosure, divestment, and solidarity at large. I am proud that so many students have peacefully defended their convictions and am touched to see the community of support that has bloomed among friends, fellow students, and faculty in response to this prolonged protest.

—Julia S. Dan ’26, Associate Editorial editor

Before the encampment, there was quiet.

After the administration closed the gates, the customary bustle of bright-eyed tourists vanished. In its place, an eerie stillness descended upon the yard, thick with anticipation. We all knew what was coming — it was simply a question of when.

It arrived in a flash, students streaking towards the lawn and tents popping up with unimaginable speed. (I’ve been camping all my life, and I’ve never seen anything like it.)

The Yard has been occupied, filled with the sounds of impassioned chanting, vibrant dancing, and murmured prayer. Up they drift, away from the encampment and through the open window of my nearby dorm. And still, when the sun sets and the demonstrators settle down for another long night, there is quiet once more.

Harvard can hear its students speaking. But to really listen, we must engage meaningfully and critically with what they have to say.

—E. Matteo Diaz ’27, Crimson Editorial editor

Over the last few days, I’ve understood what power and resistance truly mean. The resilience of the encampment’s peaceful protesting has soothed my fears of escalating violence and showed the world that change comes in many forms. In all honesty, I’m grateful that the Yard has been closed off, as there is now a clear barrier between those peacefully protesting and those who might wish to incite violence on our campus.

My fears built in the days leading up to the protest, when a hushed silence had befallen the campus after the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee’s suspension. If there was a mass protest, would Harvard University Police Department respond as violently as the New York Police Department did at Columbia University? Would I know some among the arrested?

Although some of these questions remain unanswered, one thing has been made strikingly clear: We are witnessing history, and the actions you take today will be the stories you tell your children tomorrow.

—Kelisha M. Williams ’25, Crimson Editorial editor

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