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Statement from President Lawrence H. Summers Regarding Commencement Speech

Concerns have been raised about the planned commencement speech of Zayed Yasin, who was chosen as one of this June’s student Commencement speakers by a duly appointed faculty committee. We live in times when, understandably, many people at Harvard and beyond are deeply apprehensive about events in the Middle East and possible reverberations in American life. Yet, especially in a university setting, it is important for people to keep open minds, listen carefully to one another and react to the totality of what each speaker has to say. I am pleased that there have been a number of constructive conversations that have addressed potential divisions in our community associated with his speech.

Finally, I am told that Mr. Yasin recently received a threatening e-mail from an unidentified source. Direct personal threats are reprehensible and all of us who believe in the values of this university should condemn them in the strongest terms.