HomeAmericasPoliticsShruthi Kumar Blasts Harvard About Free Speech At Graduation

Shruthi Kumar Blasts Harvard About Free Speech At Graduation

Shruthi Kumar Blasts Harvard About Free Speech At Graduation

Shruthi Kumar Blasts Harvard About Free Speech At Graduation

India-West News Desk

BOSTON, MA – Shruthi Kumar, an Indian American senior at Harvard University, used her platform as the English commencement speaker to criticize the university for sanctioning more than a dozen students for their activism. During her speech, titled “The Power of Not Knowing,” Kumar deviated from her prepared remarks to address the issue, drawing a piece of paper with her comments from the sleeve of her gown.

“As I stand here today, I must take a moment to recognize my peers—the 13 undergraduates in the class of 2024 that will not graduate today,” Kumar stated on May 22, addressing the university leadership. These students were barred from participating in commencement due to sanctions for their involvement in pro-Palestinian protests on campus.

Expressing her disappointment, Kumar said, “I am deeply disappointed by the intolerance for freedom of speech and their right to civil disobedience on campus. The students have spoken. The faculty have spoken. Harvard, do you hear us?” Her words were met with a standing ovation from the audience, including some faculty members.

Kumar’s speech continued to address broader issues such as the war in Gaza, the experience of being doxed for her views, and what she described as attacks on free speech and expression. This bold move was a departure from her originally planned speech, which had focused on personal growth and embracing change.

Kumar, one of three students selected to speak at graduation through an annual contest, initially intended to share a message about adapting to uncertainty, inspired by her journey from a pre-med career track to public health. Her original speech, published in Harvard Magazine, reflected on her upbringing in Nebraska and her experiences as the eldest daughter of South Asian immigrants, the first in her family to attend college in the U.S.

“There was a lot I didn’t know,” Kumar said in her speech. “When it came time, I asked my parents how to apply to colleges. They too said, ‘I don’t know.’ These words—’I don’t know’—used to make me feel powerless like there was no answer, and therefore, no way. But from Nebraska to Harvard, I found myself redefining this feeling of not knowing. I discovered a newfound power in how much I didn’t know,” she wrote in her original speech.

Kumar’s advocacy at Harvard included a campaign to provide free menstrual products in all campus bathrooms, resulting in 817 bathrooms being regularly stocked with tampons and sanitary pads. She is the founder of GoYogi, a non-profit organization dedicated to prioritizing student mental health and well-being in schools worldwide.

An accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer since the age of nine, Kumar credits the dance form with teaching her the importance of emotional expression and the value of preserving her cultural heritage.

After graduation, Kumar plans to work on public health entrepreneurship and eventually attend law school or pursue a Ph.D.

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  • Harvard is not a democratic institute. It does not give degrees because majority say give us degrees. It has a protocol.

    Similarly, it is a private educational institute. You apply, you get admitted, you pay fees, you attend classes, you give exams, you pass, you get a degree and you go on to the next stage of life.

    Harvard did not promise you free speech. Try that “save Hindus” in Pakistan or Afghanistan and watch your rape and ultimate killing.

    That is FREE SPEECH to you!

    May 27, 2024
    • Hi Anil, this is too much of criticism for a student who talked about free speech. It shows your narrow minded, cynical view of the world. You may have enjoyed your free speech in the convenient circumstances that you are in but it is not the same for everyone. Free speech is a right and is universal in a democratic world and I hope you respect that.

      Well done Ms Kumar!

      May 27, 2024
    • What a pathetic response! What has India or Pakistan has to do with it. Standard “Whataboutism.” According to you when she works for a company she should not open her mouth because she is a paid employee?

      May 27, 2024
  • Shruthi, Give me one example- just one- out of 57 Muslim and other 147 countries,- one Muslim leader, maula, maulvi- who openly criticized- said that- What Hamas did through tunnel. rape, killing of children, burning babies in fire place, forcing meat to eat of son to a mother was inhumane act. Those who claim protection of Dharma- i.e. good behavior , must first first act accordingly.

    May 27, 2024
  • I totally agree with Anil and PAmin. I also support Israel for defending themselves for continued problems with the neighboring muslim countries.

    May 27, 2024
  • I agree with Ami and Anil.
    she is full of adrenaline and want to identified as unique ( Harvard syndrome?) human .ant such energetic young blood . However, She is selectively forgetting the mindset of Muslims and their goal. I would like her to witness oct 7 atrocities and participate in raping killings, mutilations first and then talk about Israel’s response by putting herself in the situation . She wants to be a HERO by finding a opportunity to show off at Graduation as commencement speaker. . Truth and reality are not important to her as cheers and recognition in the party .
    I would like to give her an assignment to find solution to “desire to eliminate all non Muslims including her “by Islamic jihadists and desire to live in harmony by Jews and other religions in world. I would hear her after she explains the motivation for Hamas ( Palestinians elected leaders)Her speech is immature , irresponsible and personal.
    This is my view and you don’t have to agree with it.

    May 28, 2024
  • If she is so much concerned about Gaza, she should move there and talk about freedom of speech.

    May 28, 2024
  • Freedom of speech is a complicated subject. Can one use abusive language to criticize a person or even a country under the camouflage of freedom of speech? Coming back to Gaza, I have yet to see one comment from a Palestinian to reject Hamas. If Palestinians want to be free from attacks by Israelis, first thing they need to do is to REJECT Hamas. I have reasons to believe that Palestinians support Hamas tacitly. Hamas is a terrorist organization as evidenced by October 7 incidence. Hamas is known to imbed itself with civilians, in hospitals, mosques, etc. So, what Isserlis to do except continue to attack until Hamas has been wiped out? The fact is these people are troublemakers. Don’t take my word, just look at the hot spots around the world!

    May 30, 2024

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