Friday, May 17, 2024

A screen capture from a video posted Saturday by Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine at the gates to Harvard Yard during a protest.

Harvard student protesters against violence in the Middle East packed up their camp early Tuesday after reaching an agreement with university administrators. It marked the end of Greater Boston college encampments, as MIT’s ended Friday with student arrests, and protesters at Tufts dismantled theirs May 3.

The agreement at Harvard, which allows for commencement ceremonies to take place in the locked-up Harvard Yard, included the retraction of student suspensions as a consequence for taking part in the camp, meetings about disclosure and divestment of Harvard assets in Israel and conversations about the establishment of a Center for Palestine Studies at Harvard, according to the Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine and Jews for Palestine student groups. The terms were confirmed by Harvard administrators. 

But the term “conversations” was in scare quotes in a group press release, followed by the statement, “We are under no illusions: We do not believe these meeting are divestment wins. These side deals are intended to pacify us away from full disclosure and divestment. Rest assured, they will not.”

What the students called the Harvard Liberated Zone lasted 20 days, with administrators holding firm against negotiations for the first couple of weeks. Harvard locked the gates of Harvard Yard, suspended nearly two dozen students and referred around 60 for discipline, protesters said. The approaching commencement ceremonies added pressure to talk.

Harvard spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain told The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper, that interim president Alan Garber believed “the encampment must end so that thousands of students can be recognized for their academic achievement at Harvard’s commencement.”