Harvard protests end after university agrees to talk on Israel endowment

Pro-Palestine protestors voluntarily pack up their encampment at Harvard in Cambridge. (Photo/Reuters)

Protesters against Israel's war on besieged Gaza have voluntarily taken down their tents in Harvard Yard after university officials agreed to discuss their questions about the endowment, bringing a peaceful end to the kinds of demonstrations that were broken up by police on other campuses.

The student protest group Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine said in a statement on Tuesday that the encampment "outlasted its utility with respect to our demands."

Meanwhile, Harvard University interim president Alan Garber agreed to pursue a meeting between protesters and university officials regarding the students’ questions.

Students at many college campuses this spring set up similar encampments, calling for their schools to cut ties with Israel and businesses that support it.

Harvard said its president and the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Hopi Hoekstra, will meet with the protesters to discuss the conflict in the Middle East.

The protesters said they worked out an agreement to meet with university officials including the Harvard Management Company, which oversees the world's largest academic endowment, valued at about $50 billion.

The protesters' statement said the students will set an agenda including discussions on disclosure, divestment and reinvestment, and the creation of a Center for Palestine Studies.

The students also said that Harvard has offered to retract the suspensions of more than 20 students and student workers and back down on disciplinary measures faced by 60 more.

"Since its establishment three weeks ago, the encampment has both broadened and deepened Palestine solidarity organising on campus," a spokesperson for the protesters said. "It has moved the needle on disclosure and divestment at Harvard."

Faculty members who supported the demonstration in Harvard Yard said the students achieved "an important step towards divestment from Israel and liberation for Palestine."

"We honour the bravery of our students, who put themselves at risk to amplify the worldwide call for Palestinian liberation that global leaders have been trying to suppress," Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine said.

'Dialogue is the answer'

Chloe Gambol, a Harvard University student, said the biggest achievement of the protest was just shining a spotlight on the situation in Gaza.

"The point of a protest is to draw attention and to make a scene and make a stand and, I think, definitely achieved that based on what we see on all the news. A lot of people are talking about it," she said.

Protesters also voluntarily took down their tents on Monday night at Williams College in Massachusetts after its board of trustees agreed to meet later this month. Williams president Maud Mandel said dialogue is the answer.

"In a year when personal, political and moral commitments are being tested, I have seen our diverse community members — including people in the encampment, and people who question or oppose it — try to engage with each other across differences, looking for ways to exchange views without trading insults," Mandel said in a statement.


Source: TRT