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FAS Dean Hopi Hoekstra Takes Victory Lap After Peaceful End to Harvard Yard Encampment

FAS Dean Hopi E. Hoekstra praised Harvard President Alan Garber's handling of the pro-Palestine encampment of Harvard Yard, which ended Tuesday morning.
FAS Dean Hopi E. Hoekstra praised Harvard President Alan Garber's handling of the pro-Palestine encampment of Harvard Yard, which ended Tuesday morning. By Addison Y. Liu
By Tilly R. Robinson and Neil H. Shah, Crimson Staff Writers

Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Hopi E. Hoekstra praised interim University President Alan M. Garber ’76 for his handling of the pro-Palestine encampment and called for “true and meaningful dialogue” in her first public statement about the nearly three-week occupation of Harvard Yard that ended Tuesday morning.

Hoekstra’s email, which seemed to be written as much for donors as it was for students, allowed Garber to take a victory lap as she declared that his handling of the encampment allowed it to end “peacefully, and without police action,” while noting that such a resolution was “anything but assured.”

As part of the agreement to end the encampment, Hoekstra and Garber promised to meet with members of Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine, the group that organized the encampment, to discuss their thoughts on the war in Israel and Gaza.

Hoekstra wrote that she intended to have conversations with Garber about “academic matters related to the longstanding conflicts in the Middle East.”

Like Garber, whose own statement lamented “the tragic effects of the ongoing war,” Hoekstra did not directly mention the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, referring only to “the humanitarian crisis.”

“We began the spring semester with a commitment to dialogue and to strengthening the bonds that pull us together as a community,” she wrote. “With these events, that commitment has only deepened.”

HOOP members indicated in an Instagram post announcing the encampment’s end that they intended to discuss the possibility of forming a center for Palestine studies with Hoekstra and Garber. Harvard leadership has not given any indication that they are willing to move forward with HOOP’s concrete demands.

Though the protest unfolded steps from University Hall, which houses Hoekstra and other FAS administrators, Hoekstra did not publicly comment on the demonstration over its 20-day duration. She briefly addressed the encampment at last week’s FAS meeting, though she invited interim Provost John F. Manning ’82 to give a more substantive statement.

Hoekstra’s email followed an earlier email from Garber, which laid out the terms that he and the protesters had agreed upon to end the occupation of the Yard.

HOOP agreed to end their encampment early Tuesday in exchange for the reinstatement of students placed on involuntary leave and a conversation with a member of the Harvard Corporation — the University’s top governing board — on endowment disclosure and divestment.

At other schools in Boston — including Northeastern University, Emerson College, and MIT — pro-Palestine encampments were met with police crackdowns, resulting in more than 200 arrests across the city.

Harvard’s negotiated resolution aligns more closely with the responses at Northwestern University and Brown University, where protesters dismantled their encampments after reaching agreements with university administrators.

The terms of the negotiated end to the encampment, however, was almost identical to the initial offer Garber made to HOOP members last week. Though it still represented a compromise, it is unclear if the agreement will spark a backlash from faculty and donors who urged Garber not to acquiesce to the protesters’ demands.

Hoekstra praised Harvard staff who “worked around the clock” during the encampment to make its resolution “possible.” She specifically acknowledged staff members who worked “to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone in the Yard” and thanked faculty for their “insights, advice, and support.”

“These events played out right in front of University Hall, the historic home of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences,” she wrote. “On behalf of the FAS, I extend to them my sincere and lasting gratitude.”

—Staff writer Tilly R. Robinson can be reached at tilly.robinson@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @tillyrobin.

—Staff writer Neil H. Shah can be reached at neil.shah@thecrimson.com. Follow him on X @neilhshah15.

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FASFAS AdministrationHarvard YardProtestsAlan GarberFront Middle FeatureFeatured ArticlesHopi HoekstraIsrael Palestine