Furious Trump administration officials have hit out at Harvard University after students began a 'McCarthyist' petition to prevent them from spea
Furious Trump administration officials have hit out at Harvard University after students began a ‘McCarthyist’ petition to prevent them from speaking, teaching or visiting the university.
Students from Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences drafted the petition which has enjoyed less support at the university’s Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Business School, according to Fox News, which suggested the opposition prompted a change of wording.
The document initially proposed an outright ban on Trump administration officials speaking, teaching or attending the university but now calls for such officials to be held ‘accountable’ before undertaking these roles, Fox News reported, citing ‘people with direct knowledge of the matter.’
A petition to prevent Trump administration officials from visiting Harvard University has sparked debate among students a week after it was drafted
‘A few other conservative students and I made the point that we can’t just target Republicans, that isn’t what the Kennedy School stands for,’ student Carter Estes told Fox Business.
He added that the university has hosted ‘a number of controversial guests over the years’ and said that any guidelines should ‘apply to every speaker, not single out Trump appointees.’
Despite opposition from some schools within the university, the revised petition was reportedly approved by students at the Harvard’s Medical School and Divinity School.
The petition comes as universities in the United States and elsewhere are grappling with warring expectations of those who want these centres of learning to be a ‘safe space’ and others who argue that challenging existing view points and encouraging debate is one of the main functions of a university.
Harvard told Fox News it is aware of the petition but had no further comment.
Students from Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences drafted the petition which has enjoyed less support at the university’s Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Business School, according to Fox News
For the petition to be enacted, student councils from each school need to vote on the measure. It would then be sent to school administrators who would make the final decision on whether to make it school policy.
For the petition to be enacted, student councils from each school need to vote on the measure, Fox reported.
It would then be sent to school administrators who would make the final decision on whether to make it school policy.
Alan Dershowitz, the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School described the petition as ‘new McCarthyism’.
The lawyer, who was part of President Donald Trump’s legal team during his Senate impeachment trial, told Fox Business that he would ‘challenge any ban’.
He added that if the petition was approved he would represent pro-bono any Trump official seeking to visit the campus.
Dershowitz has defended a number of high-profile clients including convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
The lawyer helped negotiate a controversial agreement in 2006 that saw Epstein serve just 13 months in prison, much of which was spent on ‘work release’ elsewhere, after he was indicted by the FBI.
Lawyer Alan Dershowitz has offered to represent Trump officials wishing to engage with the university on a pro-bono basis
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany (left) – herself a Harvard Law graduate – has said she hoped the school administrators would quash the petition
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany – herself a Harvard Law graduate – said she hoped the school administrators would quash the petition.
‘Academic communities should be bastions of free speech. I will happily walk back on campus and challenge this,’ she said.
Republican Senator from Nebraska Ben Sasse echoed McEnany’s comments, saying:
‘Universities not only shouldn’t be afraid of free and open debate – they should welcome it. The whole point of education is to engage ideas you didn’t already hold.’
Sass, who was once the president of Midland University, likened the students behind the petition to ‘ideological extremists’ who ‘aren’t willing to hear their opponents out,’ describing such behaviour as ‘cowardly.’
‘Many principled liberal professors are adults who know that healthy institutions don’t give in to temper tantrums,’ he said.
‘Let’s hope some of them stand up.’