Harvard University on Thursday withdrew Chelsea Manning’s visiting fellowship after spirited debate over the whistleblower and transgender activist.
“We invited Chelsea Manning because the Kennedy School’s longstanding approach to visiting speakers is to invite some people who have significantly influenced events in the world even if they do not share our values or their actions or words are abhorrent to some members of our community,” Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf said in a statement.
“However, I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a Visiting Fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility,” he added.
“Therefore, we are withdrawing the invitation to her to serve as a Visiting Fellow – and the perceived honor that it implies to some people – while maintaining the invitation for her to spend a day at the Kennedy School and speak in the Forum.”
Some Twitter users on Friday praised Harvard’s reversal, while other people voiced concern about the decision.
I'm glad Harvard's School of Government has withdrawn the invitation to Chelsea Manning that shouldn't have ever been extended.— Inquisitive (@stilloptomistic) September 15, 2017
Chelsea Manning offer@Harvard has been rescinded!!!— Ava (@AlRobins2015) September 15, 2017
CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Thursday canceled a planned talk at Harvard’s Kennedy School, citing Manning’s appointment as a Visiting Fellow the day before.
“Mr. Manning stands against everything the brave men and women I serve alongside stand for,” he said in a letter to the school.
“Let me be clear, this has nothing to do with Ms. Manning’s identity as a transgender person,” the Harvard Law School alumni added.
“It has everything to do with her identity as a traitor to the United States of America and my loyalty to the officers of the CIA.”
Harvard on Wednesday announced Manning as part of its 2017-2018 Visiting Fellows program, adding she would talk about “issues of LGBTQ identity in the military.”
Manning was convicted by court-martial in 2013 of releasing confidential military and State Department documents to WikiLeaks.
Former President Barack Obama commuted her 35-year prison sentence to seven years in 2017, leading to her ultimate release last May.
Manning – who was born as Bradley Manning – has since been the subject of controversy over whether or not her actions were acceptable behavior.