Wednesday, July 17

Harvard’s Response to Subpoenas Is Called ‘Useless’ by House Committee

Representative Virginia Foxx, who is leading a House investigation of campus antisemitism, blasted Harvard University on Tuesday for handing over “useless” documents in response to subpoenas.

“I don’t know if it’s arrogance, ineptness, or indifference that’s guiding Harvard,” Representative Foxx, a North Carolina Republican, said in a statement. “Regardless, its actions to date are shameful.”

Many of the 2,500 pages were duplicates of already submitted documents, she said, and heavy redactions made some documents worthless.

Harvard said it has been acting in good faith and since January has turned over nearly 4,900 pages of material to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, not including any duplicate material.

The university also released a four-page document detailing how it has fought antisemitism on campus, including more policing of social media and stricter enforcement of rules on demonstrations. This overview was the only part of its submission that Harvard made public; the committee did not release any of the material.

“Harvard is focused on safety and ensuring a sense of belonging for our Jewish students — so that every member of our community is protected, embraced and valued, and can thrive at Harvard,” Jason Newton, a spokesman, said.

In early February, after Harvard’s first round of submissions, Representative Foxx accused it of a “limited and dilatory” response. The university, she said, had handed over letters from nonprofits and copies of student handbooks that were publicly available.

Subpoenas soon followed, asking for “all Harvard Corporation meeting minutes and/or summaries, whether formal or informal, since Jan. 1, 2021,” among a wide range of other documents.

With Harvard and the House at loggerheads, it is unclear what the repercussions could be. “The committee is weighing an appropriate response to Harvard’s malfeasance,” Representative Foxx said.

The committee was already in uncharted territory. Harvard is the first university to be served a subpoena by the Education and the Workforce Committee since it was established in 1867, according to Nick Barley, a committee spokesman.

The standoff is perhaps just the most visible example of the divisions that have taken hold on campus since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas on Israel, with many Jewish students, alumni and donors saying that Harvard was not doing enough to protect students from antisemitic slogans, social messaging and campus protests.

Other universities have also been struggling with the challenges of responding to the Hamas attacks and the growing death toll and hunger in Gaza, as the war continues and campuses become the site of bitter protests by pro-Palestinian students and some faculty.

Representative Foxx has also announced investigations of antisemitism at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia and M.I.T.