Harvard Proctor Indefinitely Relieved of Duties Following Confrontation at Pro-Palestine Protest
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A Harvard College proctor has been indefinitely relieved of his duties following his involvement in a confrontation at a pro-Palestine protest, according to a petition that began circulating Friday evening and a student with direct knowledge of the situation.
According to the petition, the First Year Experience Office — which oversees freshmen residential life — notified Elom Tettey-Tamaklo on Wednesday that he would be relieved of his proctor position “for an indeterminate amount of time.”
Tettey-Tamaklo, who is a second-year student at Harvard Divinity School and a proctor for Thayer Hall, declined to comment.
Proctors are Harvard graduate students, instructors, or staff who oversee a group of freshmen. They are unpaid and receive compensation in the form of meal swipes and housing in a freshman dorm. According to the petition, Tettey-Tamaklo was asked to vacate Thayer on Friday.
“Elom’s treatment by the Residential Life administration seems to be in direct conflict with Harvard’s supposed ‘vital commitment to free expression,’” the petition states. “Expressing and organizing around our beliefs should not place us in jeopardy of housing or vocational insecurity.”
Tettey-Tamaklo’s information that identified him as a proctor also appears to have been removed from an official College website days after the protest, according to an activity log of the website and internet archives.
Harvard College spokesperson Jonathan Palumbo declined to comment on or confirm the proctor’s removal, citing a policy against commenting on personnel matters. Palumbo did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the petition.
The petition cited “student discomfort” as the reason for Tettey-Tamaklo’s removal but alleged that “none of Elom’s first-year students have expressed any discomfort.”
Last week, Harvard Chabad President Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi called for the removal of Tettey-Tamaklo due to his involvement in an Oct. 18 pro-Palestine “die-in” at Harvard Business School and an Instagram post, claiming that he had fielded complaints from students.
A viral video of the protest depicts a confrontation between a man, who was identified as an Israeli student in other outlets, and protest organizers. When the student began filming demonstrators’ faces, Tettey-Tamaklo and other protest safety marshals directed him away and blocked his camera with their security vests and keffiyehs — traditional Palestinian scarves.
The student could be heard saying “Don’t touch me” as he came into physical contact with the protesters.
The viral video of the confrontation drew criticism from prominent alumni and Zarchi, who demanded disciplinary action against some protesters.
In an email announcement to Chabad affiliates Wednesday afternoon, Zarchi also shared a screenshot he identified as the proctor’s Instagram story, which included the caption, “The beast of Zionism shall be slain, Palestine shall live, Her children shall return, From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
“Needless to say, students are frightened of him. Their parents call me regularly to say how they can’t sleep at night as they worry for the safety of their children,” Zarchi wrote in his email.
Friday’s petition called on affiliates to email Associate Dean of Students Lauren E. Brandt ’01 and Oak Yard Resident Dean Madeleine A. Currie, who the petition claimed had notified Tettey-Tamaklo that he had been relieved of his proctor duties.
Brandt and Currie did not respond to requests for comment.
The decision to remove Tettey-Tamaklo comes amid efforts by the University to combat what prominent alumni have characterized as a “meteoric rise” in antisemitism on campus, with many focusing their scrutiny on campus protests.
Harvard President Claudine Gay announced the launch of an antisemitism advisory group at the end of last month. In a Thursday afternoon email statement, Gay condemned the pro-Palestine phrase “from the river to the sea,” which, she wrote, “to a great many people imply the eradication of Jews from Israel and engender both pain and existential fears within our Jewish community.”
In the same email, Gay also confirmed an investigation into the confrontation during the protest, though said the University would wait until law enforcement had completed their investigation before taking disciplinary action against students.
“I have heard from many community members about the incident on the Harvard Business School campus on October 18,” Gay wrote. “Consistent with our standard practice, once law enforcement’s inquiry is complete, the University will address the incident through its student disciplinary procedures to determine if University policies or codes of conduct have been violated and, if so, take appropriate action.”
—Staff writer Joyce E. Kim can be reached at email@example.com.
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