Harvard Protesters Raise Palestinian Flags On University Building, In Spot Reserved For American Flag

Harvard protesters chanted 'Shame!' when university staff removed the flags

April 27, 2024

Anti-Israel protesters at Harvard University raised Palestinian flags on campus Saturday in a spot typically reserved for the American flag.

Harvard protesters hoisted three Palestinian flags over the Harvard Yard encampment, where students have been sleeping in tents since Wednesday. The flags were raised on poles attached to University Hall–where Harvard usually flies the American flag or flags of the countries of visiting foreign dignitaries.

Approximately one hour after three keffiyeh-clad individuals raised the flags, the Ivy League university's staff removed them despite jeering from protesters who were chanting "Shame!" and "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free." According to Harvard University spokesman Jonathan L. Swain, raising flags is "a violation of University policy and the individuals involved will be subjected to disciplinary action."

The American flag was not flying on Saturday because university procedures dictate that "the American flag is raised in front of University Hall each Monday through Friday at 7 a.m. and lowered at 4 p.m., for proper storage."

The move came just an hour after the school’s Dean of Students, Tom Dunne, sent out an email warning that those who continue to participate in the unauthorized encampment would face disciplinary action. However, Dunne gave no deadline for students to disperse. 

"Let me be clear: Maintaining and participating in this extensive encampment of tents in Harvard Yard constitutes an ongoing violation of University rules by interfering with the normal activities and operations of our campus and disrupting the work of fellow students and other Harvard community members," said the email.

"Those participating in the ongoing encampment and associated activities will face disciplinary consequences as outlined in existing policies. Repeated or sustained violations will be subjected to increased sanctions."

Organizers with Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine posted a photo of the flags to social media with the caption "WE FLY FOR PALESTINE." The student group also called upon the university to "agree to meet our demands to disclose and divest from Israeli apartheid and occupation," saying that they will not leave until then. 

Harvard’s encampment is part of a larger solidarity movement with Columbia University’s "Gaza Solidarity" tent encampment and others that have sprung up across the country. Earlier in the week, protesters at the Ivy League institution rallied against the school’s decision to suspend the Palestine Solidarity Committee for the rest of the spring term over an alleged policy violation.

Published under: Harvard