More than 100 Harvard students and affiliates staged a silent “study-in” at Widener Library, followed by a rally at Massachusetts Hall Sunday around noon to demand an end to the war in Gaza.
The study-in and rally — organized by a coalition of pro-Palestine campus groups, including the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and Graduate Students 4 Palestine — came two days after the U.S. vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
At noon, students and affiliates donned keffiyehs — traditional Palestinian scarves — and entered Widener Library while holding signs that read “No normalcy during genocide. Justice for Palestine.” For the next hour, demonstrators silently studied in the Loker Reading Room with the signs taped to their computers.
Organizers also rolled out a canvas listing the names of Palestinians killed in Gaza since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war.
The study-in occurred during reading period — which falls between the end of classes and the beginning of finals period — and bring attention to Palestine even while students studied, according to a PSC spokesperson, whom The Crimson granted anonymity due to safety concerns.
Around 1 p.m., demonstrators filed out of the library and circled Harvard Yard holding signs and Palestinian flags while shouting chants, including “in our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians” and “free, free Palestine.” The protesters gathered in front of Massachusetts Hall, which houses the office of University President Claudine Gay.
Speakers also led the crowd in chants of “from the river to the sea” — a phrase explicitly condemned by Gay in a Nov. 9 statement.
The PSC defended the use of the phrase, “from the river to the sea,” describing it as a call for “solidarity and equality for all people between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea,” in a Sunday midday statement on Instagram.
“We reject that this phrase is genocidal. We are against all forms of genocide and expulsion — that is exactly why we organize for this cause,” the post reads.
During the rally, an organizer from the PSC demanded that Harvard reject “the dangerous conflation” of pro-Palestine speech and antisemitic speech, create a committee to address anti-Palestinian racism, and divest from companies “complicit in Israeli apartheid.”
University spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain declined to comment on students’ demands and criticisms.
Prince A. Williams ’25 and Kojo Acheampong ’26, organizers from the African and African American Resistance Organization, announced during the rally that they were facing disciplinary hearings under the College’s Administrative Board surrounding their pro-Palestine activism.
“We understand that this University is trying to attack students,” Acheampong said during the rally. “But we know that that’s not gonna stop us.”
Other speakers during the rally included a rank-and-file member of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions caucus of Harvard’s graduate student union, undergraduate organizers, and three healthcare professionals from Harvard Medical School.
Harvard Jews for Palestine organizer Violet T.M. Barron ’26 called for other Jewish students to stand in solidarity with Palestine.
“If we want to talk about Jewish safety, Jewish students are not safe until Palestinian, Arab, Black, and Muslim students are also safe,” Barron said during the rally. “I am not safe until my friends are also safe.”
Sunday’s demonstration came five days after Gay testified before Congress about antisemitism on campus. Gay drew backlash and calls to resign for declining to give a “yes” or “no” answer on whether calls for the genocide of Jews would violate Harvard policies.
The PSC spokesperson said the study-in and protest were not organized in response to the hearing or the ensuing backlash.
“Nobody — not the Harvard Corporation, not the external pressures on the University, and not even members of Congress calling for our expulsion — can intimidate us into submission,” the Sunday PSC statement reads.
—Staff writer Joyce E. Kim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.