May 21, 2024

Harvard Can’t Find ‘Class Day’ Graduation Speaker; 10 Turn Down Invite

Harvard College is struggling to discover a speaker for “Class Day” at its commencement later this month, with ten invited audio system already having turned down the slot, partly resulting from ongoing protests and antisemitism on the elite campus.

The Harvard Crimson reported Friday:

More than 10 individuals have declined provides to function the keynote speaker for Harvard College’s annual Class Day, leaving the Harvard Alumni Association scrambling to discover a speaker with lower than two weeks till the ceremony for undergraduate seniors.

The potential audio system declined for quite a lot of causes, together with an unwillingness to affiliate with Harvard throughout a 12 months of controversy, scheduling conflicts, and excessive honorarium requests, in response to Senior Class First Marshal Fez S. Zafar ’24.

The hesitation to affiliate with Harvard comes after the University confronted intense backlash over its initial response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. The ongoing pro-Palestine encampment protest in Harvard Yard has additionally called into question the logistics of this 12 months’s Commencement and Class Day ceremonies — which usually happen in Tercentenary Theatre, the place protesters not too long ago arrange extra tents.

A Harvard College spokesperson informed the Crimson that not one of the audio system had cited “the ongoing controversy” as the rationale for declining the invitation, however the Crimson appeared to disagree.

Class Day is the day earlier than the formal graduation ceremony, and the speech is often lighthearted.

Famous Class Day audio system prior to now embrace President Joe Biden in 2017, Facebook chief operations officer Sheryl Sandberg in 2014, comic Larry Wilmore in 2023 — and, maybe most notoriously, Ali G (Sacha Baron Cohen), in character, in 2004.

Harvard has suspended college students who’re collaborating the “encampment,” which swelled throughout demonstrations over the weekend as activists appeared to have minimize locks on the gates of Harvard Yard to permit non-university-affiliated individuals to enter.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the creator of the brand new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He can also be the creator of the latest e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.