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Pro-Palestinian group ends weeks-long encampment at Harvard University, pledges other actions

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A pro-Palestinian group on Tuesday ended its encampment at Harvard Yard after meetings with university administrators, but pledged to “carry out this protracted struggle through other means.”

“Harvard Beware: The Liberated Zone is Everywhere,” the group Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday morning.

“After lasting beyond student move-out, the Harvard encampment has concluded,” the post said. “The struggle for Palestinian liberation goes on.”

The decampment happened as a result of meetings with Harvard University officials, the protesters said in their social media posts.

The announcement came one week after the heads of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, citing increased concerns for campus safety, called on protesters to end encampments on both campuses.

Harvard officials earlier said protesters continuing with the encampment, which lasted for nearly three weeks, would face consequences, including being placed on involuntary leave from the Ivy League school.

“As a pre-condition for decamping, administration will retract suspensions,” the Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine said Tuesday. “Administration has also offered us meetings regarding disclosure and divestment with members of the Harvard Management Company and “conversations” regarding the establishment of a Center for Palestine Studies at Harvard.”

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

In an open letter to members of the Harvard Community last week, Interim Harvard President Alan Garber called for an immediate end to “the occupation of Harvard Yard.”

Garber said at the time that the continuation of the encampment “presents a significant risk to the educational environment” at Harvard and that anyone who participates in or perpetuates the encampment “will be referred for involuntary leave from their Schools.”

Harvard University in a statement on Tuesday confirmed that the “participants in the Harvard Yard encampment voluntarily ended the occupation of Harvard Yard today.”

A university spokesperson said that “Garber will pursue a meeting between encampment participants and the chair of the Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility and other University leaders for a discussion regarding students’ questions related to the endowment.”

University administrators will also “meet with encampment participants for further discussion on their views and perspectives regarding the conflict in the Middle East.”

Involuntary leave notices were issued to students participating in the encampment “based on the ongoing disruption to the educational environment and resulted in students being ineligible to remain in Harvard housing and cease to be present on campus until reinstated,” according to the university.

“Now that the disruption has ended, the University will encourage the Schools to promptly process petitions for reinstatement for those students placed on involuntary leave,” the university said.

The ongoing encampment at Harvard has “disrupted our educational activities and operations,” Garber earlier said, adding that the actions of some protesters towards Harvard staff and passersby are “indefensible and unacceptable.”

“The right to free speech, including protest and dissent, is vital to the work of the research university. But it is not unlimited,” Garber earlier said. “It must be exercised in a time, place, and manner that respects the right of our community members to do their work, pursue their education, and enjoy the opportunities that a residential campus has to offer.”

Recently, Massachusetts Congressman Jake Auchincloss called on Garber to remove the Pro-Palestine encampment and “re-engineer” a more accepting environment on campus.

“The oppressive and overbearing culture that is antizionist does not represent the median American, nor does it represent the core values of America,” said Auchincloss, who spent the day on Thursday speaking with Israeli and Jewish students at Harvard.

Garber issued the call to end the encampment at the university as Harvard is set to hold its commencement on May 23.

His comments last week came as another Ivy League school, Columbia University in New York, announced that it would cancel its main commencement ceremony amid ongoing protests.

The days leading up to Harvard’s planned commencement later this month have been disruptive for both students and staff at the historic Cambridge campus, Garber earlier said.

“The disruptions from this encampment at the heart of the University have been numerous. Harvard College exams and other important activities and events have had to move elsewhere,” Garber said. “Safety concerns over the past two weeks, including those raised as a result of students sleeping outdoors overnight, have required us to sharply limit access to Harvard Yard.”

In February, the co-chairperson of Harvard University’s talk force on antisemitism resigned amid concerns that the prestigious Ivy League school would not act on the group’s recommendations. That same month, Harvard condemned what it called a “flagrantly antisemitic cartoon” that an undergraduate group posted on social media.

House Republicans last month launched an investigation into federal funding for universities amid the campus protests and reports of growing antisemitism on college and university campuses.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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