Thursday, June 13, 2024

Harvard University students denied degrees over pro-Palestine protest

Shraddha Joshi (left) and Asmer Asrar Safi (right) are among the 13 Harvard graduating students who were denied their degrees over a pro-Palestine protest at the university.

At least 13 Harvard graduating students were denied their degrees over a pro-Palestine protest at the university.

Thirteen pro-Palestine students were barred from graduating for their active involvement in campus protests, even after a majority of the university’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted for the students to have their degrees conferred. The Harvard Corporation, the university’s governing body, voted last month to halt the students’ graduation.

These graduating students at one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world will not be awarded their degrees for at least one year.

The Harvard Corporation barred these students from receiving their degrees during this year’s graduation ceremony on May 23 due to their involvement in the three-week pro-Palestine encampment at the university last month.

“I am waiting for my appeals decision to come out,” 23-year-old Asmer Asrar Safi, an international student of social studies and ethnicity, migration, and rights at Harvard College, said to Al Jazeera.

He said: “I am a Rhodes Scholar and trying to ascertain if I can matriculate at the University of Oxford given that my Harvard degree has been withheld for a year, even though I have met all the academic conditions for my program and have completed my degree requirements.”

“After having completed the appeal application on my end, we seem to be in a limbo as we wait for communication from the university. Students and faculty members are all quite confused by the ambiguity of the process, and the timeline for appeals is unclear,” another student, Shraddha Joshi, told Al Jazeera.

“I was supposed to go to the University of Cambridge with the Harvard-UK Fellowship, but my plans are now in flux due to my degree status. The lack of transparency and poor communication from administrators make it difficult to predict what our next steps will look like,” she added.

Safi says he has been working on pro-Palestine causes at the Harvard campus since 2020, helping organize various events.

“Shraddha and I have planned various events regarding our divestment campaign, which has grown tremendously over the last few months, with students being forced to contend with the university’s complicity in the crimes committed against Palestinians,” he said.

Last month, a graduating Harvard University student went off script and sharply slammed Harvard for the university’s arbitrary action against the students protesting against Israel’s ongoing genocidal war on Gaza.

Shruthi Kumar, an Indian American from Nebraska, who was chosen to deliver the English commencement remarks for the undergraduate class, said, “As I stand here today, I must take a moment to recognize my peers—the 13 undergraduates in the class of 2024 who will not graduate today.”

Over 1,000 Harvard University students staged a walkout in solidarity with the 13 undergraduates soon after Shruthi’s speech.

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