Should Harvard University Return a $6.5 M Donation from Jeffrey Epstein?

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Harvard University confirmed Wednesday it had no plans to return the $6.5 million donations to the billionaire Jeffrey Epstein who was accused of sex trafficking earlier this week.

A spokesperson of the university asserted that the amount which the Ivy League institution received in 2003 was currently in use for studies in the field of evolutionary theory, viruses, and cancers. 

Harvard was already asked to return the donation of $6.5 million in 2006 after a probable cause affidavit detailed the financier's sexual interaction with under-aged girls. Back then, the university also declined to return the donation.

Reportedly, Harvard was not the sole U.S. higher education institution to get a donation by the controversial financier. 

As The Daily Beast reported earlier this year, the University of Arizona Foundation kept $50,000 received two years ago from Gratitude America Ltd. Furthermore, the same organization granted $150,000 to The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2017. 

The 2012-2014 tax returns of Gratitude America listed Epstein as a president for this period. Since 2014, his name is missing from the organization's tax filings.

The billionaire's connections to Harvard date back to the 90's, sources say. In 1990, Epstein reportedly donated funds for the construction and development of a new campus building named after his old friend, Henry Rosovsky. The latter used to serve as a dean of the university's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. 

Decades later, in 2003, Epstein reportedly pledged to donate $30 million for Harvard's program in evolutionary dynamics. Harvard's spokesperson declined to comment on that Wednesday.

Several U.S. universities already returned funds from controversial donors. For instance, the University of Alabama returned $21.5 million to Hugh Culverhouse, who had opposed the state's law to ban all abortions. Also, the University of Wyoming decided to give up a donation of $ 800,000 received by a convicted sex offender.

In 2017, the University of Southern California did not accept a $5 million donation pledge of the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein following the sexual misconduct scandals.  In 2015, the historically black Spelman college stopped funding a professorship paid for by a donation from Bill Cosby and his spouse after the rape allegations.

The billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was arrested Saturday for alleged sex trafficking of minor girls, with prosecutors saying that some of these victims were 14 years old. According to the indictment, Epstein created a network of minor victims for him to exploit sexually.

Do you support or oppose the decisions of Harvard University not to return the donation of Jeffrey Epstein?