Two Harvard Law School Clinics Sign Statement to Protect Campus Speech

By S. Mac Healey and Saketh Sundar, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Entrepreneurs Clinic signed onto a joint statement calling on university administrators to protect free speech during the nationwide surge in campus protests, citing several Harvard policies as examples of problematic protest restrictions.

The statement — co-signed by more than 25 law school centers and clinics — comes as Harvard began to discipline pro-Palestine student activists staging an encampment in Harvard Yard, which entered its eighth day on Wednesday.

No protesters have been arrested at Harvard, where the encampment has remained peaceful, but widespread student arrests have been made at universities including Columbia University, Yale University, and Emerson College.

“We are deeply concerned that many of our universities are undermining human rights by enlisting police forces to disperse and arrest nonviolent student protestors calling for Palestinian human rights,” the letter states, adding that more than “700 students, faculty, and staff” have been arrested at demonstrations.

“Across academic institutions, we are witnessing the chilling of speech and closing of civic space,” the letter states.

The letter cited the decision to close Harvard Yard as an example of when “university administrators have abruptly closed student common spaces when protests were planned.”

The letter similarly cited a January statement from top Harvard leadership, including interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber ’76 as an example of when university administrators have “issued new interpretations and guidelines to expand restrictions on assembly.”

The January statement included new “Guidance on Protest and Dissent” which sought to clarify existing protest policies found in the Statement on Rights and Responsibilities. Garber’s statement did not add new protest rules, though it clarified that protests were essentially limited to reserved outdoor areas.

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