The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Harvard was right to recant Chelsea Manning’s title of fellow

Harvard+on+Manning
Harvard on Manning

On Sept. 13, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University announced a new round of Visiting Fellows who would come to their Institute of Politics to talk on a variety of public policy issues.
However, just two days later, the Dean of the Kennedy School made the decision to revoke the title of Visiting Fellow from one of those named: Chelsea Manning.
According to Hanna Kozlowska at Quartz, the decision was reevaluated after Michael Morrell, a former deputy director at the CIA, resigned his position as Senior Fellow with Harvard because he felt it was inappropriate for Harvard to give such an honor to a convicted felon.
The leaders at the Kennedy School made the correct decision.
Back in 2013, Manning was convicted for illegally copying roughly 700,000 pages of U.S. military reports, which she subsequently sent to the website WikiLeaks, who released them on the web. These materials included items like Afghan and Iraq War logs, as well as Guantanamo Bay files and secure diplomatic cables.
According to Alexandra Zavis at the Los Angeles Times, Manning was convicted of six violations of the Espionage Act, although she was cleared of the most serious charge. She received a 35-year jail sentence due to the other six violations.
Luckily for Manning, she was not forced to serve the entirety of her sentence. In one of his last acts in January, former President Barack Obama commuted her sentencing and Manning was released from prison in May 2017.
Per Zavis, Obama felt the sentence was excessive, especially considering it was the longest ever given to a convicted leaker in American history.
While the commutation of her sentence is another issue entirely, I want to focus on why it was the right decisions to revoke Manning’s honorific at the Kennedy School. To be clear, Manning will still speak at Harvard and to take questions from students, but she will lack the title of “Visiting Fellow.”
According to the statement released by Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf, “Hearing a very wide range of views, regardless of what members of our community think about the people offering those views, is fundamental to the learning process at the Kennedy School.
He later said he understands how giving someone an official title may indicate this person is being “honored.”
The reason I feel the correct decision was made in this situation is due to both the criminal conviction and the nature of Manning’s crimes. She does not deserve to be honored.
Her actions ultimately put many U.S. soldiers in harm’s way after the documents were leaked and she deserved to face the consequences of her decision.
Regardless of whether or not you think Manning’s acts had some positive effects in relation to government transparency, there is no getting around the fact she broke the law and risked the lives of countless Americans in doing so.
There is nothing wrong with a college inviting a potentially controversial speaker to visit their campus and I believe it is something that should be done more often.
However, bestowing an honorific upon a person who was convicted for committing multiple and very serious crimes is simply a step too far.
Institutes such as the Kennedy School focus on training students who are considering careers in public service. While Manning may be a thought-provoking speaker, she is far from the type of public servant students should aspire to become.
My hope is this will serve as a learning experience for the broader public, as people will come to understand there is a definite line between being willing to listen to the opinions of a controversial speaker and giving honor to a criminal who willingly put Americans and our soldiers in harm’s way. 

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Harvard was right to recant Chelsea Manning’s title of fellow