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Student Groups At Harvard Call On School To Reinstate Manning Fellowship, Apologize

Widener Library in Harvard Yard. (Joe Difazio for WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
Widener Library in Harvard Yard. (Joe Difazio for WBUR)

Twelve student groups at Harvard are calling on the university to reinstate former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning as a visiting fellow.

In a statement released Saturday, they also call on the Kennedy School to apologize for rescinding Manning's invitation.

The decision by the school to invite Manning, who is convicted of leaking classified documents, was criticized by CIA Director Mike Pompeo and others Thursday evening. Pompeo canceled a planned talk at Harvard that night because of the invitation. Early Friday, the school's dean told Manning she would no longer be welcomed as a visiting fellow.

The student groups call the withdrawal of Manning's invitation "a classic case of selective outrage." They point out that retired Gen. David Petraeus is a senior fellow — even though Petraeus pleaded guilty to charges he shared classified information with his mistress while he was leading the CIA.

They also reference other whistleblowers, who, compared to Manning, have been seen in a different light:

Chelsea Manning has not yet been afforded the gloss of time, as have widely respected whistleblowers of the past––from Daniel Ellsberg, who exposed the secret escalation of the Vietnam War, to Mark Felt, who revealed crucial details of the Watergate scandal––but her contributions will undoubtedly be recognized in time.

Noah Wagner is with Harvard's transgender student group, one of the 12 groups calling for Harvard to reverse its decision.

Wagner says the students don't expect school officials to grant their request — but they want to make their voices heard.

"The actions of the administration are not reflective of the curiosity and the admiration that many of us hold for Chelsea Manning and many of us are very much hoping to hear from her," Wagner says.

Wagner says the 12 student groups are working to bring Manning to campus on their own terms — by having student organizations host the convicted leaker as an on-campus speaker.

"I think, to us, [it's] always worth expressing our dissatisfaction and not letting these decisions go without some degree of contestation, some expression, that they're not representative of what students on this campus want. And that another story of Chelsea Manning really needs to be told, in this particular incidence."

On the school's website, Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf says that inviting Manning to a visiting fellowship was a mistake, but that she still can come talk to students on campus — it just won't be as a fellow.

School officials didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Sunday.

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