Harvard University students have filed a civil rights complaint against their university for failing to provide inadequate protection from the harassment they experienced following their support for Palestinians during the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.
The complaint was filed on Monday, January 29, by the Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
In a statement, MLFA said the complaint was filed on behalf of “more than a dozen students, demanding an immediate investigation into Harvard’s failure to protect these students from harassment, intimidation, threats and more based solely on them being Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and supporters of Palestinian rights.”
The complaints state that the students have been targeted with rampant harassment and racist attacks including doxxing, stalking, and assault simply for being Palestinian, Muslim, and supporters of Palestinian rights.
Some students were attacked for wearing keffiyehs, traditional Palestinian scarves, it said.
Harvard University has responded to requests for help with closed doors and threats to limit or retract students’ future academic opportunities, the MLFA said.
The students affected are from Harvard College, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Divinity School, and Harvard Law School.
One of the students said, “As a Palestinian student at Harvard, the racism and harassment I have faced is shocking, terrifying, and outrageous.”
“We have been chased, spat at, stalked, and hounded by doxxing trucks on campus, and even at our families’ homes. On top of worrying about my family’s safety in Palestine, I’m living in fear of being attacked while walking to class. No student should have to live like this.”
According to MLFA civil litigation department head Christina Jump, who is the lead attorney for the students, “We are proud to help these brave students find a voice and assert their rights to learn free and safe from harm, consistent with the First Amendment of our nation’s Constitution.”
“They deserve that, just like any other student — let them learn, and learn in a safe space.”
The MLFA cited a November 7 letter from the US Department of Education for Civil Rights, which raised concerns about threats to Jewish, Muslim, Arab American, Palestinian Americans, and other communities at US universities.
MLFA’s statement notes, “We urge the Office of Civil Rights to swiftly open an investigation into Harvard’s failure to protect its students, and ensure accountability for Harvard’s permissive discrimination against these students.”
On Wednesday, January 3, Claudine Gay resigned as Harvard president due to backlash over her congressional testimony on antisemitism and plagiarism allegations. She does not explicitly state that calls for the genocide of Jews would violate the school’s conduct policy.
This move comes after months of unease on campus in the wake of Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, that claimed the lives of about 1,200 Israelis.
Since then, more than 26,000 Palestinians have died as a result of Israel’s ceaseless bombing of the Gaza Strip, while over 65,000 others—mostly civilians—have been injured.