GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York was removed from the Harvard Institute of Politics Senior Advisory Committee Tuesday for her role in perpetuating baseless claims about voter fraud in the November 2020 election.
The decision comes following calls from students and alumni – including a petition signed by nearly a thousand Harvard affiliates – to remove Stefanik from the committee.
Pleas for Stefanik to step aside had been brewing since the election, but this specific petition was started early last week in the wake of the insurrection at the Capitol on Wednesday, when Stefanik objected to the certification of the election results, even after the violence.
“I spoke with Elise and asked her to step aside from the Senior Advisory Committee. My request was not about political parties, political ideology, or her choice of candidate for president. Rather, in my assessment, Elise has made public assertions about voter fraud in November’s presidential election that have no basis in evidence, and she has made public statements about court actions related to the election that are incorrect,” Douglas Elmendorf, dean of faculty at the Harvard Kennedy School, said in a letter to the Senior Advisory Committee of the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School Tuesday.
“Moreover, these assertions and statements do not reflect policy disagreements but bear on the foundations of the electoral process through which this country’s leaders are chosen,” Elmendorf added.
According to the letter, Stefanik was asked to step aside from the committee, but declined that offer and therefore was therefore removed from the committee.
Megan Corrigan and Jacob Carrel – both students at Harvard Law School – were in a group chat texting as the violence at the Capitol unfolded.
“We were both aware Rep. Stefanik had this position at the Institute of Politics, and we felt that with her continued support of these false claims of election fraud she was enabling this violence. And we felt like she should no longer be a part of our institution or hold such a high position within our Institute of Politics,” Corrigan, a 28-year-old second year law student at Harvard Law School and an author of the petition, told CNN.
“She continued and objected after the violence… and from there, the petition just took off, even faster than we imagined,” Corrigan added.
In addition to the petition, undergraduates also shared an infographic on social media which explained why they believed Stefanik “should not be an IOP senior advisor.”
“Through her promise to oppose the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, Rep. Stefanik has demonstrated that she is not suitable to advise our student center any longer,” the students wrote.
“We were so happy that the University heard us and took this step to hold her accountable this morning,” Corrigan told CNN Tuesday.
Stefanik responded to the Institute of Politics’ decision Tuesday with a statement on Twitter in which she said, “The decision by Harvard’s administration to cower and cave to the woke Left will continue to erode diversity of thought, public discourse, and ultimately the student experience.”
But, according to Coorigan, “This isn’t a free speech issue. This is a case of legislative action taken contrary to our Democracy.”