Posted on September 20, 2019

Khurana Stresses Importance of Free Speech in Current Political Climate

Shera S. Avi-Yonah and Delano R. Franklin, Harvard Crimson, September 20, 2019

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana said in a Wednesday interview he believes Harvard students should keep in mind the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ free speech policy as they air dissenting opinions and plan on-campus protests.

“The way change happens in society is that people have to hear voices. They have to be able to argue points of view and be able to persuade,” Khurana said. “It’s not only a part of our College’s mission, but I think it’s really important for democratic society right now.”


In 2017 at Harvard, the Harvard Financial Analysts Club invited controversial ex-pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli to campus, where he was interrupted by chanting protestors and a false fire alarm. Later that year, Harvard’s Open Campus Initiative’s invitation to controversial sociologist Charles A. Murray ’65 — whose work linking race to IQ has been denounced and discredited by academics — drew dozens of protesters.

Khurana has previously said he was “pleased” to see students engage in activism and protest. His comments came after activists interrupted University President Lawrence S. Bacow as part of their push for the University to divest its endowment from the fossil fuel industry and companies tied to prisons.

{snip} This year’s resource guide explains that organizations inviting controversial or high-profile speakers must make use of College-approved moderators.

Khurana said he included the nearly 30-year-old policy in his email to students because of the current political moment.