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Published on February 23, 2024
Harvard Alumni Sue University Alleging "Rampant Antisemitism" Devalues Their DegreesSource: Google Street View

A group of Harvard University alumni have taken legal action against their alma mater, citing "rampant antisemitism" which they claim has depreciated the value of their degrees. According to a Boston 25 News report, 10 graduates filed a federal lawsuit in Massachusetts U.S. District Court, arguing that Harvard has not only neglected to properly address incidents of hate and discrimination but also breached its contractual obligations to its students. The plaintiffs expressed a sentiment once unthinkable for an Ivy League alumnus: shame in association with their prestigious institution.

Emerging from the chaos that has reportedly swirled around the Cambridge campus in recent months, notably amid the Israel-Hamas war, this legal skirmish spotlights accusations from Jewish students of "severe and pervasive" antisemitism, as detailed in a separate lawsuit last month. The Harvard grads' lawsuit, covered by Boston Herald, alleges that Harvard's inaction has led to reputational damage with real-world consequences, reporting that some businesses and law firms have pledged to stop hiring Harvard graduates in the aftermath.

This week's investigation into an antisemitic cartoon posted on a social media account linked to Harvard's faculty and staff only adds another layer to the controversies that have beset the institution. The plaintiffs' lawsuit explicitly notes, “Harvard breached and continues to breach its contractual obligation to Plaintiffs by failing to adequately address antisemitism on its campus,” They demand the university take decisive action, which includes the termination of faculty and administration who have been lax in responding to these incidents and the expulsion of students involved in perpetrating hate speech and antisemitic conduct.

The graduates behind the lawsuit are seeking more than just policy changes; they're pursuing financial restitution for the costs associated with their Harvard education and compensatory damages for the alleged reputational harm to their degrees. The lawsuit elaborates, “Plaintiffs also seek restitution for the financial costs associated with having attended Harvard and compensatory damages for the reputational damage to and thus reduced value of their Harvard degrees,” Meanwhile, Harvard's silence on the matter remains, with a spokesperson declining to comment on the ongoing litigation.

In an intriguing twist, Claudine Gay, who served as Harvard's president, stepped down last month amid a controversy that included her contentious congressional testimony regarding antisemitism on campus, and separate plagiarism allegations. The Boston Herald reports that Gay testified saying protesters' calls for the genocide of Jewish people do not necessarily violate Harvard’s policies.