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HUCTW, HOOP Protest Sanctions Against Pro-Palestine Harvard Staff at Tuesday Rally

Harvard workers, students, and Cambridge residents rallied in front of the Smith Campus Center Tuesday to protest disciplinary action against union members involved in the Harvard Yard encampment.
Harvard workers, students, and Cambridge residents rallied in front of the Smith Campus Center Tuesday to protest disciplinary action against union members involved in the Harvard Yard encampment. By Frank S. Zhou
By Joyce E. Kim and Aran Sonnad-Joshi, Crimson Staff Writers

Nearly 100 Harvard workers, students, and Cambridge residents held a pro-Palestine rally in front of Smith Campus Center on Tuesday to condemn the University’s disciplinary action against union members involved in the 20-day encampment in Harvard Yard.

The protest was organized by rank-and-file members of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers after two HUCTW members were “threatened with termination” for participation in the encampment, according to HUCTW member Geoffrey P. Carens.

University spokesperson Jason A. Newton did not respond to a request for comment.

Members of Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine — the unrecognized student group coalition that staged the encampment — the Harvard Graduate Students Union-United Auto Workers, and Harvard Undergraduate Workers Union-UAW, among other groups, assisted in organizing Tuesday’s rally.

Protesters stood outside Smith Center for a round of speakers and chanted “Get up, get down, Cambridge is a union town” and “Intifada, intifada, coming to America.”

Monday’s rally marked the second public rally since the end of the encampment. During an emergency rally Sunday, protesters warned University administrators of disruptions to Thursday’s Commencement ceremonies.

The Harvard College Administrative Board suspended 5 students and placed at least 20 more on probation Friday evening. At least 13 seniors will be barred from graduating at Commencement.

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted to let the seniors graduate during a Monday afternoon meeting, but the effort was rejected by the Harvard Corporation — the University’s highest governing body — on Wednesday.

Sarah M. Broas, an HGSU-UAW rank-and-file member who was among several students placed on involuntary leave from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for their participation in the encampment, called the pro-Palestine movement “a labor issue.”

“Palestine is a labor issue because when Harvard placed me on involuntary leave for my involvement in the encampment, I couldn’t get into my workplace,” they said. “Palestine is a labor issue because when I was denied my Weingarten rights of union representation in a disciplinary meeting, I didn’t have my union to back me.”

HGSU-UAW previously filed unfair labor practice charges against Harvard with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging that the University’s response to the encampment violated the rights of student workers. The filing accuses Harvard of “discrimination,” “suppression of protected concerted activity,” and leaving protesters who were placed on involuntary leave at risk without food or financial aid.

Another HUCTW member said during the rally that they were facing disciplinary action for “standing in solidarity with Palestine” and “organizing for safer and healthier workplace conditions.”

“I was put on administrative leave and banned from campus,” they said. “Since then I have been summoned to an investigative meeting where no concrete evidence or charges have been brought against me.”

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

—Staff writer Aran Sonnad-Joshi can be reached at Follow him on X @asonnadjoshi.

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