Harvard Plans to Stay Silent on Controversial Issues After Furor

Harvard University will no longer issue official statements about public matters that don’t “directly affect the university’s core function,” following months of turmoil over its response to the Hamas attack on Israel and ensuing retaliatory war in Gaza.

Bloomberg
First Published28 May 2024
Harvard Plans to Stay Silent on Controversial Issues After Furor
Harvard Plans to Stay Silent on Controversial Issues After Furor

(Bloomberg) -- Harvard University will no longer issue official statements about public matters that don’t “directly affect the university’s core function,” following months of turmoil over its response to the Hamas attack on Israel and ensuing retaliatory war in Gaza.

The decision follows recommendations by two faculty groups convened in April that examined how and when the university should speak as an institution and the nature of open inquiry and debate on campus. 

The tumult was fueled in the days after Oct. 7 when 30 student groups blamed the attack solely on Israel. Harvard president, Claudine Gay, who resigned in January, was slammed for the university’s slow response to the student statement and the Hamas attack. Critics included former leader Larry Summers, who contrasted the approach taken in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, after which Harvard flew the Ukraine flag in solidarity, and when Gay, at the time Dean, wrote about the killing of George Floyd in 2020.

The change places Harvard in line with the University of Chicago, which adopted the principle of espousing institutional neutrality after the 1967 Kalven report. Harvard’s interim President Alan Garber said in an email to the Harvard community that the committee’s recommendations have been accepted and endorsed by the Harvard Corporation, the university’s highest governing body.

“The process of translating these principles into concrete practice will, of course, require time and experience, and we look forward to the work ahead,” Garber said in a statement. 

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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