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Update on Presidential Task Forces

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,
In January, I announced the establishment of two presidential task forces to deepen our understanding of how and why the sense of belonging among Muslim, Arab, Palestinian, Jewish, and Israeli members of our community was being undermined. I write today to share the preliminary recommendations of the Presidential Task Force on Combating Anti-Muslim, Anti-Arab, and Anti-Palestinian Bias, and the Presidential Task Force on Combating Antisemitism.
Listening last week to a presentation by the co-chairs, I was struck not only by the rigor and urgency with which the members of task forces undertook their efforts but also by the great care with which they proceeded as collaborators and colleagues. Their own willingness to seek truth, to listen while withholding judgment, and to speak with kindness was a powerful example of how I hope we can proceed together. We must strengthen our ties with a sustained commitment to engaging each other with tact, decency, and compassion. Our learning cannot be limited to purely academic pursuits if we hope to fulfill our responsibilities to one another and to the institution that is our intellectual home.
I am profoundly grateful to Ali Asani, Jared Ellias, Wafaie Fawzi, Asim Ijaz Khwaja, and Derek Penslar for their candor, thoughtfulness, and, most important, their optimism. After having spent months leading the task forces during what has been a strife-filled time for Harvard, they have developed a shared belief in the possibility that our community will change for the better, becoming more welcoming and inclusive. That is a common aspiration across the University.
The work ahead of us will require concerted effort. As both task forces work towards final recommendations, their preliminary recommendations offer a path forward. We will commence detailed review and implementation of the shorter-term recommendations over the summer. Those that are longer-term will be developed, refined, and implemented in due course. For now, I hope you will familiarize yourself with our efforts and, for those of you who have not done so already, assist us by completing this survey, which will remain open through July.
Alan M. Garber