Harvard to stay silent on issues that don’t impact university’s ‘core function’

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Harvard University announced Tuesday it will no longer weigh in on public matters that don’t impact the Ivy League school’s core function, a shift that follows a historic period of turmoil at the storied university.

Harvard leaders announced the new policy after forming a working group in April to debate when the university should speak out.

That group concluded that Harvard has a “responsibility to speak out to protect and promote its core function,” including to “defend the university’s autonomy and academic freedom when threatened.”

“The university and its leaders should not, however, issue official statements about public matters that do not directly affect the university’s core function,” the working group said in its report.

The report went on to warn that the “integrity and credibility of the institution are compromised when the university speaks officially on matters outside its institutional area of expertise.”

The move comes after Claudine Gay, the first Black president in Harvard’s nearly 400-year history, stepped down in January amid a swirl of controversy and plagiarism allegations.

Gay faced intense pressure following her initial public statements on the October 7 terror attack on Israel and then after her testimony before lawmakers on campus antisemitism.

Alan Garber, who replaced Gay as president on interim basis, announced Tuesday the university has accepted the working group’s report and recommendations, which have also been endorsed by The Harvard Corporation, the university’s top 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.

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