Politics

‘Shame on you, Jared Kushner’: Harvard alumni tear apart classmate in 15th reunion notes

Jared Kushner in his 2003 Harvard yearbook.
Harvard yearbook
Jared Kushner in his 2003 Harvard yearbook.

WASHINGTON — Graduates of the Harvard class of 2003 are making known their displeasure with the current White House administration in an unusual way, using the platform of their 15th reunion alumni notes to launch harsh, personal attacks on a former classmate.

“Shame on you, Jared Kushner,’’ Sophia Macris wrote in the traditional Harvard Red Book alumni listings, in the most blunt of multiple critiques targeting President Trump’s son-in-law and official presidential adviser.

The salvos against Kushner — by a small number of alumni — are tucked in among the usual fare of alumni notes, where former classmates proudly recite their latest accomplishments, volunteer work, a move across the country, or the birth of a child.

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Kushner is not expected to attend the 15th reunion festivities that begin Thursday in Cambridge, but his younger brother, Josh, is planning on attending his 10th Harvard reunion. Jared Kushner, through the White House, declined to comment.

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Harvard has a tradition dating to the 19th century of allowing alumni to write in updates about what they’ve been up to — coming in five-year cycles and known informally, because of its crimson cover, as the Red Book — in a practice meant to encourage them to stay in touch with one another. Normally, those entries are more anodyne; rarely, if ever, do they involve attacks on a fellow classmate.

The cover of the 15th reunion Red Book for Harvard’s class of 2003.
John Blanding/Globe Staff
The cover of the 15th reunion Red Book for Harvard’s class of 2003.

Organizers of the anti-Kushner effort set up a private “Shame on You, Jared Kushner’’ Facebook page about six months ago and urged their class of 2003 peers to use the Red Book as a platform of personal protest. Part of the goal is to let Kushner know that his service in the Trump White House will have lasting consequences, resulting in his potential ostracization from a valuable social network of his peers.

“Mostly, I feel low-grade, constant horror as I watch attacks on refugees, minorities, my most at-risk patients, women’s rights, and the environment, and new threats of nuclear war,” wrote one of Kushner’s classmates who said her grandparents were Holocaust survivors. “Shame on you, Jared Kushner.”

“Shame on you, Jared Kushner,” Chanda Prescod-Weinstein wrote. “And shame on Harvard.”

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“I, for one, am actually glad that our Class of ’03 finally has a real, live fascist among us,” Jon Sherman wrote. “Who says Harvard isn’t diverse?”

Kushner, who attended his fifth reunion but not his 10th, did not submit an entry this year. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is an honored guest during part of the festivities, receiving the prestigious Radcliffe Medal on Friday.

The younger Kushner did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Harvard declined to comment, but the controversy gained attention after one member of the class — Ben Wikler, who is the Washington director of MoveOn.org — shared several entries on Twitter. The Globe also has a copy of the book and reached several of Kushner’s classmates.

Jared Kushner (left) with his wife, Ivanka Trump, at the new US embassy in Jerusalem earlier this month.
Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press
Kushner (left) with his wife, Ivanka Trump, at the US embassy in Jerusalem earlier this month.

By some accounts, Kushner was not a standout student in high school, but his father had dreams of sending his son to Harvard. Charles Kushner pledged $2.5 million to the school to help ensure he got in, according to “The Price of Admission,” an exposé by journalist Daniel Golden.

During his years on the Harvard campus — and living in Kirkland House — Jared Kushner fit in on the leafy campus. He had an active role in the Harvard Chabad, a campus Jewish group; played junior varsity squash; and was a member of an exclusive social club called The Fly. His yearbook entry listed him as the cooking editor of Current Magazine, a news and campus life publication.

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But while getting his degree in government, he managed and developed properties in Somerville. The Globe reported last year on how he made a profit from those properties, but also made costly business errors, amassed housing complaints, and forced one group of tenants to take him to housing court to recover their security deposit.

Harvard students in the past have also tried to appeal to Kushner. Shortly after Trump was inaugurated, a student posted an open letter that was signed by more than 2,000 alumni in 24 hours.

“Harvard’s motto is simple. It is just a single word: Veritas. Truth,” the letter read. “We have seen disturbing signs that the Administration will suppress open thought and debate.”

As some of Kushner’s classmates began preparing for their reunion, they took different approaches in how to respond.

Macris’s full entry is only five words long: “Shame on you, Jared Kushner.”

“For me, I definitively felt like it was more impactful to say you’re not going to hear from me for another five years. This is a one-shot deal,” she said. “Would I have liked to [have] told my classmates to buy my book? Yeah. That would have benefited me a lot more. But that’s not where my head is.”

One classmate wrote a haiku:

“Real tough world right now

Our classmate really involved???

Get out of there now”

Another classmate, Angelina Fryer, alluded to a litany of controversy Kushner has been involved in over the early start to the Trump administration.

“I think what I’m most proud of, however, is what I’ve managed to avoid during the past five years,” Fryer wrote. “I haven’t been accused of making false statements on or material omissions from security clearance disclosure forms. I haven’t been accused of colluding with representatives of a foreign government to affect the outcome of an election. I haven’t been accused of using my government position to sell visas to foreign investors in my family’s businesses. I haven’t been sued for mistreating tenants of violating rental laws. I think we can all be better than that.”

Kushner at the White House in 2017.
Zach Gibson/Bloomberg News/File
Kushner at the White House in 2017.

Sherman, a Washington-based public interest lawyer, said his entry was inspired by animus toward Kushner. His grandmother was an Auschwitz survivor, losing 35 members of her family, and he views Kushner’s defense of Trump as a dishonor to her memory. So after updating his classmates on his legal career, and how he’s fallen in love, he turned to Kushner.

“It’s an opportunity — and other people saw it as that as well — to shame him,” Sherman said, calling Kushner “an utter disgrace.”

“I’m glad people are speaking out. This is a free country and there are going to be consequences for the way they’ve behaved during this time. Social consequences. . . . They can’t just return to their old life and walk around and go to restaurants in New York and D.C. and not get constant backlash.”

Prescod-Weinstein said she wanted to be more confrontational.

“We should be uncomfortable with the way Harvard functions as a steppingstone for people in power who may have terrible values,” she said.

“He was in Jerusalem with his wife while people were being massacred. I feel so emotional about that,” she added. “He’s a person who is doing horrible things. As a black woman and a Jewish woman, I think it’s disgusting. He’s not alone in doing these disgusting things, but he’s certainly one of the active participants.”

Kushner sat next to Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, during May 14 dedication of the new US embassy in Jerusalem.
Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images
Kushner sat next to Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, during May 14 dedication of the new US embassy in Jerusalem.

She said she was also disappointed that only a small portion of the 1,600 members of the class decided to speak out against Kushner.

“It’s emblematic of Harvard culture. I think people thought it was rude and didn’t want to be rude. But I think genocide is rude. And I was happy to be rude.”

Matt Viser can be reached at matt.viser@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mviser.