Procedures of the Administrative Board

The Administrative Board decides its cases and petitions according to well-established standards and the specific rules and policies established by the Faculty, taking into account the Board’s understanding of the student’s particular circumstances. All Board actions follow essentially the same procedures. Board actions begin ordinarily with a discussion between the student and the Resident Dean. At that time the student and his or her adviser review the student’s plans or situation and the various options available. Many matters can be resolved through the use of petitions. Some are so common that the College has a standard form by which the student may request (and the Board may take) action; special petitions may require that the student submit a written statement, explaining the particular circumstances of the request.

Disciplinary cases also begin with a conversation between the student, his or her Resident Dean, and the Secretary of the Administrative Board or his or her designee, during which they discuss the incident, the relevant College rules or standards of conduct, and possible courses of action. Since the Board takes great care with disciplinary cases, the initial conversation may lead to several subsequent conversations. See the Administrative Board website (, for more information on Board procedures.

Once the student and Resident Dean have a sound understanding and description of the incident, they present it to the Board as soon as possible. If it is likely that the Board will take formal disciplinary action, the student may choose to appear before a subcommittee of the Board personally when the case is discussed, and, if so, may choose to have another officer of the University with an appointment in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences attend as his or her personal adviser. Disciplinary cases in which the facts are in dispute or which require investigation may be referred, at the discretion of the Dean of Harvard College, to a subcommittee of the Administrative Board which may work with the assistance of a fact finder.

A complaint or allegation of wrongdoing against a Harvard undergraduate may be filed in writing with a Resident Dean of Freshmen, Allston Burr Resident Dean, or the Dean of Harvard College by a member of the Faculty or other officer of the University, or by a staff member or student. The College will decide whether to issue a charge and, if so, against whom and for what. Complaints must ordinarily be brought to the College in a timely manner. The Board typically cannot resolve peer dispute cases in which there is little evidence except the conflicting statements of the principals. Therefore, students are asked to provide as much information as possible to support their allegations. Based on that information and any other information obtained through investigation, the Board will decide whether to issue a charge. If a charge is issued, the investigation will continue further and the Board will decide the case. For further details, see the Administrative Board website (

The Administrative Board may independently initiate a charge against a student, and usually does so when a student has been charged with a crime in a court of law. When court action is pending or in progress, the Administrative Board may delay or suspend its own review process, in recognition of the student’s criminal defense interests.

Disciplinary cases are ordinarily considered by the Administrative Board as quickly as is reasonably possible, given the Board’s schedule and the need to investigate matters carefully. (The Board does not meet during the summer months.) A disciplinary matter concerning a student on leave of absence will also be handled as quickly as possible, and no student on a leave of absence will be allowed to register until any pending disciplinary matter has been resolved. In the case of alleged serious criminal behavior, the College may place a student involuntarily on a leave of absence. Students are expected to comply with all disciplinary rules from matriculation until the conferring of the degree. A degree will not be granted to a student who is not in good standing or against whom a disciplinary charge is pending.

Finally, when the Board reviews all unsatisfactory records at the end of each term and the Resident Deans present each such record with a description of the factors leading to it, these presentations, too, are based on their conversations with the students and usually include supporting or explanatory information from the course instructors or the students’ advisers.

In arriving at any decision, the Administrative Board pays close attention to the academic and personal growth of the students, both as individuals and as members of a residential academic community. Just as the Board depends heavily on the knowledgeable participation of the Allston Burr Resident Deans and Resident Deans of Freshmen, the Board itself may be the single most important resource available to the Resident Deans who routinely assist students with academic and residential matters.

A student may ask that any decision of the Administrative Board be reconsidered when there is additional or new relevant information available. A student has the option to appeal some disciplinary decisions of the Administrative Board in the Faculty Council. Information on this process may be obtained from the student’s Allston Burr Resident Dean, Resident Dean of Freshmen, the Secretary of the Administrative Board (University Hall, First Floor), or the Secretary of the Faculty (University Hall, Ground Floor). The process is described on the Administrative Board