An online petition with more than 15,000 signatures slammed a Harvard University dean for his decision to rescind an invitation to Chelsea Manning.
The former military analyst, who was imprisoned for leaking classified information, was supposed to speak at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government as a visiting fellow this fall. However, after receiving criticism from top CIA officials, the school canceled.
"I don't think it looks good. I think yielding to the CIA is quite different when it's trying to censor your choices," said Margaret Morganroth Gullette, a Radcliffe and Harvard alumnus.
Friday, Morganroth Gullette and other alumni delivered the petition in person to the office of Dean Douglas Elmendorf. The petition, organized by RootsAction, states that the school has "jettisoned academic freedom" by acquiescing to outside criticism, especially a government agency.
"By exposing them, you make an institution think twice about bowing to that kind of pressure," said Victor Wallis, who was there to deliver the signatures.
The decision to revoke Manning’s invitation came hours after CIA director Mike Pompeo pulled out of a speaking engagement at the school, writing it was "shameful" for the university to support Manning's "treasonous actions."
Pompeo's sentiments were echoed by former CIA deputy director Michael Morell, who resigned from his role as a senior fellow at Harvard.
"I don't think that pressure from the CIA, or if there was pressure from Harvard higher ups that that should impede coming to a better decision, said Morganroth Gullette. "Stick to your choices."
While the Kennedy School had no response to the petition, the dean released a statement regarding his decision.