Some Harvard University students started a petition to ban Trump officials from Harvard grounds. They want to ban Trump administration alumni from teaching, attending, or speaking there. The petition did not sit well with other students.
Students of the Kennedy School of Government and the Business School do not approve. Carter Estes, who attends the Kennedy School, shared his views. He said: “A few other conservative students and I made the point we can’t just target Republicans.” He added “that isn’t what the Kennedy School stands for. ”
Ban Trump Officials from Harvard
The petition originated from students at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The organizers designed it as a progressive attempt to punish Trump associates. Harvard must “create and share with students transparent guidelines” whenever Trump alumni visits.
Initially, the petition gained momentum among the liberal arts schools. Students overwhelmingly gave the petition the thumbs up. However, once it reached the Kennedy School and the Harvard Business School, it began encountering resistance,
Goals of Free Speech
Estes, a Republican student group, was less than amused with the petition. “Harvard has hosted a number of controversial guests over the years like a fellow from the Palestine Liberation Organization, so we should make broadly applicable guidelines that apply to every speaker, not single out Trump appointees,” he said.
Last year, Harvard got in hot water by requiring a “neutral” moderator. This applies when the school invites controversial speakers. Moderators have the power to impose a “two-strike” rule on interruptions. In addition, they require speakers to register with the Dean of Students a month in advance. Student organ The Harvard Crimson editorial took exception to the policy. It called the rules “paternalistic, ineffective, and contrary to the College’s stated goals of free speech.”
Fox Business thinks that the petition resulted from the progressive movement. For example, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) called for keeping tabs on Trump alumni. “Is anyone archiving these Trump sycophants for when they try to downplay or deny their complicity in the future?” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “I foresee a decent probability of many deleted Tweets, writings, photos in the future.”
Emily Adams and Michael Simon replied by sharing the “Trump Accountability Project.” This project aims to bar Trump associates from profiting off of their time working for Trump. Adams was a former aide to Pete Buttigieg, while Simon was an Obama campaign staff member in 2008. The TAP website contains a message that specifically targets Republicans. It said: “We should welcome in our fellow Americans with whom we differ politically. But those who took a paycheck from the Trump administration should not profit from their efforts to tear our democracy apart.”
Change in wording
Realizing that their petition was going nowhere, organizers later changed their wording. Instead of banning Trump’s aides outright, they demanded that they “be held accountable.” Only after will they allow them to set foot in Harvard. The change aims to soften the blow of the petition. However, it still singles out members of the previous administration.
Both Harvard Medical School and Divinity School students reportedly approved the new version. Meanwhile, the University remains “aware of this student petition. Beyond that, we have no comment.” To get approval, the petition must get approval from the various student councils. Then, it goes before school administrators up to Harvard University president Lawrence Bacow. Afterward, the president will decide if it becomes policy.
Alan Dershowitz, a Felix Frankfurter professor of law, emeritus, at Harvard, said that the petition is part of an alarming trend. He feared that school administrators often give in to student demands easily. He said he “will challenge any ban that may be enacted by asking to speak at the school. I will not kowtow to this new McCarthyism.” Also, if this becomes policy, he offered his services pro bono. This applies to any Trump official who would visit Harvard.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said she hoped for the petition’s rejection. McEnany is a Harvard Law graduate. She noted that “academic communities should be bastions of free speech.” If this changes, she said she would “happily walk back on campus and challenge this.”
Watch this as Just the News interviews lawyer Alan Dershowitz on the idea of Harvard students banning Trump officials from their school:
Do you agree with the petition to ban Trump officials from Harvard grounds? Or, do you find the measure a bit too much? Let us know what you think about student petitions by commenting below.