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Garber Says He Will Encourage Involuntary Leave Reinstatement as Harvard Yard Encampment Ends

Harvard President Alan Garber said he will encourage schools to begin reinstating students from involuntary leave after the Harvard Yard encampment ended on Tuesday.
Harvard President Alan Garber said he will encourage schools to begin reinstating students from involuntary leave after the Harvard Yard encampment ended on Tuesday. By Marina Qu
By Emma H. Haidar and Cam E. Kettles, Crimson Staff Writers

Twenty-one days after the pro-Palestine occupation of Harvard Yard began, interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber ’76 was able to do what presidents at more than 60 other universities could not: end the demonstration without the police or major concessions to the protesters.

In an email to affiliates Tuesday morning, Garber wrote that he would organize a meeting between the protesters and Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar — a member of the Harvard Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, and the chair of the Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility — “now that the area is being cleared.”

He wrote that the agreement was “in line with the conversation” he had with protesters in the encampment last week.

Before the encampment first began on April 24, Garber said there was a “high bar” for involving law enforcement in the University’s protest response. While such a response looked more and more likely as Commencement drew closer, the resolution Tuesday allows him to avoid calling on the police to clear the encampment.

Though a spokesperson for the University wrote that the encampment was taken down “voluntarily,” Garber also agreed to ask school deans to initiate the process of reinstating 22 students placed on involuntary leave over their participation in the encampment.

“With the disruption to the educational environment caused by the encampment now abated, I will ask that the Schools promptly initiate applicable reinstatement proceedings for all individuals who have been placed on involuntary leaves of absence,” Garber wrote.

Members of the pro-Palestine encampment dismantle the Harvard Yard encampment Tuesday morning.
Members of the pro-Palestine encampment dismantle the Harvard Yard encampment Tuesday morning. By Addison Y. Liu

In an Instagram post announcing the agreement, Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine — the unrecognized student group organizing the encampment — said that the meetings offered were “regarding disclosure and divestment with members of the Harvard Management Company.”

Garber also offered protesters a meeting with Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Hopi E. Hoekstra. HOOP protesters indicated that they would discuss establishing a center for Palestine studies, one of HOOP’s modified demands late last week.

“We are under no illusions: we do not not believe these meetings are divestment wins,” HOOP wrote. “These side-deals are intended to pacify us away from full disclosure & divestment. Rest assured, they will not.”

Garber wrote in the Tuesday email that despite the end of the encampment, there would continue to be “deep disagreements” on campus.

“I acknowledge the profound grief that many in our community feel over the tragic effects of the ongoing war,” Garber wrote.

“Now more than ever, it is crucial to do what we do at our best, creating conditions for true dialogue, modeling ways to build understanding, empathy, and trust, and pursuing constructive change anchored in the rights and responsibilities we share,” he added.

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

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

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