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Tags: harvard | alan garber | working group | report

Harvard Leaders Advised to Stop Commenting on Public Issues

By    |   Tuesday, 28 May 2024 04:36 PM EDT

Harvard University said its leadership will no longer comment on public issues after months of being roiled by a polarizing debate over Israel's military operation against Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

A report by the "Institutional Voice" working group, established by university interim President Alan Garber in April, advised leadership not to "issue official statements about public matters that do not directly affect the university's core function," The Harvard Crimson student newspaper reported Tuesday.

Garber wrote in an email that he accepted the recommendations, which were also endorsed by the Harvard Corporation, the university's highest governing body.

"There will be close cases where reasonable people disagree about whether a given issue is or is not directly related to the core function of the university," the report stated, according to the Crimson. "The university's policy in those situations should be to err on the side of avoiding official statements."

The policy will apply to all university administrators and governing board members, as well as deans, department chairs, and faculty councils.

Harvard's troubles began last fall, when more than 30 student groups reportedly signed a statement that held Israel "entirely responsible" for Hamas' Oct. 7 terrorist attack, forcing then-President Claudine Gay to publicly distance herself and the university from the statement.

In December, a firestorm erupted when Gay told a House committee "it depends on the context" when she was asked if calling for the genocide of Jews violated university policy. Gay resigned in January after allegations of plagiarism emerged.

The university's campus was then embroiled by a 20-day tent encampment of pro-Palestinian student protesters demanding Harvard divest from businesses profiting from Israel's military operation in Gaza. The encampment ended May 14 when the university reportedly reached a settlement with protesters that included reinstating students placed on involuntary leaves of absence and offering protesters a meeting with members of the university's governing boards about divestment.

When announcing the working group's report and its new policy, the school said, according to The Hill, the report "reasons that when the university 'speaks officially on matters outside its institutional area of expertise,' such statements risk compromising the 'integrity and credibility' of our academic mission and may undermine open inquiry and academic freedom by making 'it more difficult for some members of the community to express their views when they differ from the university's official position.'"

"We have accepted the faculty working group's report and recommendations, which also have been endorsed by the Harvard Corporation," the school said.

The working group's recommendations bring Harvard closer in line with peer universities that have adopted stances of institutional neutrality, the Crimson reported, but the working group's report and Garber's announcement were careful to highlight that the university will not be neutral.

"Our report argues that the university is fundamentally committed to a nonneutral set of values specifically, getting to the truth by experiment, open inquiry, and debate," said Noah Feldman, a Harvard Law School professor who co-chaired the working group with philosophy professor Alison Simmons.

Michael Katz

Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


Politics
Harvard University said its leadership will no longer comment on public issues after months of being roiled by a polarizing debate over Israel's military operation against Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
harvard, alan garber, working group, report
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2024-36-28
Tuesday, 28 May 2024 04:36 PM
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