Standards of Conduct in the Harvard Community

Physical Violence

Harvard College strives to maintain a safe and secure environment for all members of the community and thus does not tolerate physical violence used by or against the members of the community. Students are expected to avoid all physical conflicts, confrontations, and altercations unless their own safety or that of another is at extreme jeopardy. Failure to do so will ordinarily result in disciplinary action, including but not limited to requirement to withdraw from the College (see also the section on Sexual Assault and Other Sexual Misconduct below).


The College expects that all students will be honest and forthcoming in their dealings with the members of this community. Further, the College expects that students will answer truthfully questions put to them by a properly identified officer of the University. Failure to do so ordinarily will result in disciplinary action, including but not limited to requirement to withdraw from the College.

All students are required to respect private and public ownership; instances of theft, misappropriation, or unauthorized use of or damage to property or materials not one’s own will ordinarily result in disciplinary action, including requirement to withdraw from the College.

Sexual Assault and Other Sexual Misconduct

In May 1993, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences adopted a policy on sexual assault and misconduct. That policy is printed here in its entirety. In addition, copies are available from the Assistant Dean of Harvard College, from the House Offices and the Freshman Dean’s Office, from the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (OSAPR), and from the Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment (SASH) advisers in each House and Yard.

FAS Policy Statement on Rape, Sexual Assault, and Other Sexual Misconduct


All members of the University community have a right to treatment with dignity and respect and to full participation in the community. These rights extend to classrooms, workplaces, and residences. They include the right to bodily safety and integrity. In recognition of these rights, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences is committed to creating and maintaining an environment at Harvard in which all individuals—faculty, staff, and students—are treated with dignity and feel safe and secure in their persons. These principles are fundamental to the attainment of a community devoted to teaching, learning, and research.

In accordance with these principles, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences will not tolerate sexual misconduct including rape and other forms of sexual assault, whether affecting a man or a woman, perpetrated by an acquaintance or a stranger, by someone of the same sex or someone of the opposite sex. Such behavior is unacceptable in our community. A student who commits rape, sexual assault, or other sexual misconduct is subject to severe penalties under the rules of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Rape and sexual assault are serious crimes under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the individuals responsible for such acts are subject to prosecution and legal penalties.


This policy and its related disciplinary procedure apply when an allegation of sexual misconduct is made against a student at Harvard College. Within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, different reporting and disciplinary procedures apply when the individual alleged to have committed an act of sexual misconduct is a graduate student, or member of the faculty or staff.

Sexual Misconduct

For the purposes of this policy, sexual misconduct is to be understood as encompassing the following behaviors:

Being intoxicated does not diminish a student’s responsibility in perpetrating rape, sexual assault, or other sexual misconduct.


Rape and indecent assault and battery are felonies in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and any student who believes that she or he has suffered a rape or indecent assault and battery is strongly encouraged to report the incident to the HUPD immediately (617-495-1212). Once the incident is documented, the victim can then pursue legal remedies or may also choose to initiate disciplinary or remedial action for sexual misconduct, including rape and indecent assault and battery, through Harvard College in accordance with the procedures for adjudicating peer disputes, as established by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Disciplinary or remedial action under those procedures may be pursued whether or not a complainant chooses to prosecute the case. Counseling and consultations regarding emotional, legal, and administrative concerns are available to those students who wish to pursue either College or legal processes, or both.

Harvard and the local community provide many resources to support, advise, and assist victims of rape and sexual assault. All of the following resources have had training to deal effectively with sexual assault. In addition to HUPD and HUHS, Harvard College has administrative officers and counselors available to help. Some resources are as follows:

Harvard Resources

Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (OSAPR)
731 Holyoke Center
617-495-9100, 24 hours

Harvard University Police Department (HUPD)
Sensitive Crimes Unit
617-495-1796, 8 am–4 pm. After these hours, HUPD, 617-495-1212

HUHS Medical After-Hours service
(nights and weekends)
Holyoke Center

HUHS Mental Health Service
Holyoke Center

Bureau of Study Counsel
5 Linden Street

(peer counseling for sexual assault, 8 pm–7 am)
Lowell House Basement E-013

Amanda Sonis Glynn
(to discuss options for pursuing a sexual harassment complaint through informal and formal discipline)
Phillips Brooks House, room 303

Community Resources

Beth Israel Hospital Emergency Room (West Campus) (for medical evidence collection within 5 days of a sexual assault)
Clinical Center, Pilgrim Road, Boston

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Rape Intervention Program 617-667-8141

Boston Area Rape Crisis Center Hotline 99 Bishop Allen Drive (Central Square) Cambridge 617-492-RAPE or 617-492-7273

Cambridge Hospital Victims of Violence counseling program Central Street Health Clinic, Somerville 617-591-6360

If a student does not wish to use these Harvard or Community resources, HUPD and the College encourage any student who has been sexually assaulted to identify a trusted friend, family member, counselor, or other source of support to help deal with the emotional trauma he or she may experience, and know that at any time, there are additional resources available. Ideally, a good source of support will allow a survivor of sexual assault or rape to make decisions and take control over the choices they make after the assault.

Complaints of sexual misconduct may be filed with the College according to the procedures of the Administrative Board as outlined in Chapter 5 and in the Administrative Board Guide for Students. For additional information about University support and resources for sexual violence, see Chapter 6.

Drugs and Alcohol

Harvard expects its students and employees to maintain an environment that is safe and healthy. The unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees on Harvard property or as a part of any Harvard activity are violations of University rules as well as the law. Possession, use, or distribution of certain non-prescription drugs, including marijuana, amphetamines, heroin, cocaine, and non-prescription synthetics; procurement or distribution of alcohol by anyone under 21 years of age; and provision of alcohol to anyone under 21 years of age are violations of the law and of Harvard policy. All students are expected to comply with any College rules governing possessing or serving alcohol. More information is available at your House Website or the Website for the Office of Residential Life. The University holds its students and employees responsible for the consequences of their decisions to use or distribute illicit drugs or to serve or consume alcohol. Additionally, the misuse of prescription drugs (sharing, buying, or using in a manner different than prescribed) is a violation of University policy.

Health Concerns

The use of illicit drugs and the misuse of alcohol or prescription drugs are potentially harmful to health. In particular, synthetically-produced drugs often have unpredictable emotional and physical side effects that constitute an extreme health hazard. Students should also weigh the seriousness of potential loss of function that may come from ingesting illicit drugs or too much alcohol. Because of the considerable hazards involved in drug and alcohol use, administrative, medical, and psychiatric help for students having alcohol or other drug problems are available on a confidential basis from the Office of Alcohol & Other Drug Services (AODS) and other departments within Harvard University Health Services, as well from Resident Deans and other officers of the University. Any member of the University may make use of the Health Services on an emergency basis, day and night.

Referrals for Consultation/Treatment Regarding Alcohol and/or Other Drug Abuse

The following procedures outline the process for obtaining consultation for a Harvard College student whose known or suspected alcohol or drug use is affecting his or her ability to function effectively as a student and/or as a member of the Harvard community. Referrals may be made by a Resident Dean (Resident Dean of Freshman or Allston Burr Resident Dean) based on incidents in the Yard or Houses or as a result of Administrative Board action. Consultations with Alcohol & Other Drug Services (AODS) are not intended to take the place of routine advising conversations between Resident Deans and students. Rather, they provide an opportunity for structured intervention, particularly for those students who may not view their substance use or related negative consequences as problematic. The procedures and resources outlined below are focused upon the health and safety of the student. They are not a substitute for disciplinary action.

Grounds for Referral

Any of the following conditions may lead a Resident Dean or the Administrative Board to refer a student for a consultation with AODS about his or her known or suspected alcohol or drug use:

Referral Letter

The Resident Dean makes the referral for an initial consultation in writing to the student with a copy to the Director of AODS and a copy for the student’s file. The referral letter frames the referral as a consultation regarding the student’s alcohol or drug use, rather than as treatment or counseling. The referral letter clearly communicates to the student that s/he is expected to schedule an appointment with the Director of AODS within a specified time of receiving the letter (three weeks is recommended) and is to comply with all of the Director’s recommendations. It is also made clear in the referral letter that, should the student choose to decline the referral, the Resident Dean and senior officers of the House and the College will assess, on the basis of available information, whether it is appropriate for the student to continue in residence and remain enrolled in the College.

Initial AODS Consultation

The Director of AODS will consult with the student individually about his/her substance use/abuse and may then direct the student to one or more interventions. Interventions include, but are not limited to, alcohol education (AlcoholEdu for Sanctions, etc.), an individual substance abuse assessment with an on-campus mental health professional (Brief Alcohol Screening & Intervention for College Students [BASICS]), or an ongoing support group (New Directions) offered by Mental Health Services. The nature of the initial AODS consultation may vary, depending upon the nature of the substance use pattern and the circumstances surrounding the referral. The consultation is intended to determine the best course of action in addressing the substance use issue on an individual basis. It should also be noted that support is available from HUHS with or without a referral—students can also access AODS services on their own.

Monitoring Student Compliance

At the initial consultation meeting, the Director of AODS will seek permission from the student to contact the appropriate College officer (typically, the student’s Resident Dean) regarding the student’s attendance and participation in the initial consultation and what further action, if any, is recommended. The same process is invoked for subsequent interventions such as AlcoholEdu for Sanctions, BASICS, and New Directions; student attendance and recommendations for further treatment/intervention are communicated to the Resident Dean. Authorized release forms are used as necessary.

It is the responsibility of the Resident Dean, in consultation with the Director of AODS and other senior College officials, to follow up with the student upon notification of a student’s failure to comply with the recommended assessment, intervention, or treatment.

Illegal Acts

Careful note should be taken that the University should not be considered a protector or sanctuary from the existing laws of the city, state, or federal government. Massachusetts law prohibits the sale, delivery, or furnishing of alcohol to persons under the age of 21. In addition, a social host may under certain circumstances be held liable for injuries caused by a guest who, having consumed alcohol on the host’s premises, does harm to himself or herself or to a third party. If the guest is under 21 and the host knew or reasonably should have known that he or she was furnishing alcohol to a person under 21, the host will be held responsible for injuries or damage to that person or to third parties caused by the person under 21’s alcohol-influenced actions. Further, even if the guest was not a person under 21, a social host will be liable for injuries to third parties if the host knew or should have known that the guest was intoxicated, but nevertheless gave him or her, or permitted him or her to take, an alcoholic drink.

Students are reminded that there are heavy penalties, including imprisonment, for possession or distribution of illicit drugs and for selling or delivering alcohol to, or procuring alcohol for, anyone under 21. There are also serious penalties for anyone under the age of 21 who purchases, attempts to purchase, or arranges to procure alcoholic beverages or to misrepresent his or her age or falsify his or her identification with the intent of purchasing alcohol, as well as for anyone, regardless of age, who operates a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or with an open container of alcohol. In addition, the City of Cambridge prohibits consumption of alcohol on public property or on property open to the public.

Responsible Social Events

Harvard College considers the officers of all student groups (whether or not such group is officially recognized by the College) to be leaders in the Harvard community, and expects that they, like any other social host, will create safe social environments. To this end, student group officers are urged to participate in annual education efforts with the Office of Alcohol & Drug Services and the Student Activities Office, which may include, for example, training on event planning, risk reduction, and bartending.

Disciplinary Action

The University requires all students to become familiar with the information on drugs and alcohol distributed at registration each year. In addition, the General Counsel to the University has prepared a pamphlet on drug and alcohol laws that is available in the offices of the Allston Burr Resident Deans, the Dean of Freshmen, and the Dean of Harvard College. When cases involving drugs and alcohol come to the attention of the College, the College may take disciplinary action against a student, including requirement to withdraw. However, the College has also adopted an "amnesty policy," as set forth below.

Amnesty Policy

Any student may bring an intoxicated or drug-impaired friend to Harvard University Health Services or to a hospital, or seek assistance from College residential life staff or HUPD, and by doing this, neither they nor the friend will face disciplinary action from the College for having used or provided alcohol or drugs. Further, if the person who sought assistance for the intoxicated or drug-impaired student was a member or guest of the student group involved, the College will weigh this fact heavily as a mitigating circumstance with respect to any potential disciplinary action. Conversely, the College will consider the failure to seek assistance by members of the student group as a factor when determining the appropriateness of disciplinary action. The College also may consider as mitigating factors the student group’s participation in the College’s annual education and training about responsible social events, as well as any efforts made by the hosts or officers to prevent the harmful or potentially harmful situation and their cooperation with the College in its investigation of the situation. 

Usual Responses

Officers of the College may initially respond to the use of illicit drugs, underage possession or consumption of alcohol, serving alcohol to underage individuals, or overconsumption of alcohol with a warning and/or referral to the Office of Alcohol & Other Drug Services. A pattern of behavior in violation of rules governing their use or possession will lead to warning by the House Master or Dean of Freshmen, admonition by the Administrative Board, probation, or requirement to withdraw. The Administrative Board will take serious action, ordinarily probation or requirement to withdraw, in any case involving the possession in quantity or the sale or distribution of drugs, or when cases of drug and alcohol use engender danger to individuals or to the community at large. The Administrative Board will also take action in cases in which a student is involved in the falsification of identification with the intent of obtaining alcohol.

Student Groups

In addition, where serious harm, or the potential for serious harm, has come to any person as a result of consumption of alcohol or drugs at an event held, sponsored, organized or supported by a student group, whether or not such group is officially recognized by the College (either on campus or off campus), and the individual or individuals directly responsible are not identified, the host or hosts of the event may be held personally responsible. If the hosts also can not be identified, the officers of the organization may be held personally responsible. In considering such cases, the College will, in all circumstances, apply the amnesty policy described above.

At a minimum, when cases involving the consumption of alcohol or drugs at an event held, sponsored, organized or supported by a student group come to the attention of the College, the student group may be asked to come to the Office of the Dean of the College for a conversation about their procedures for hosting responsible social events and may be asked to participate in additional education or training efforts.

Student Business Activity

Harvard permits undergraduates to undertake modest levels of business activities on campus. Students may be required to move businesses entirely off-campus should they disrupt residential life, compromise the educational environment, or jeopardize the nonprofit status of the University or any exemption of its income or property from federal, state or local taxation.

A “business activity” is any activity carried on by a student that is intended to or does generate revenue or trade, whether or not for profit, and is not an individual employment or independent contractor relationship.

Compliance with the following general restrictions, mentioned elsewhere in the Handbook, also apply to student business enterprises. Use of the Harvard name or logo in conjunction with a business enterprise is prohibited. All regulations concerning safety and the use of rooms must be observed. The compilation or redistribution of information from University directories (printed or electronic) is forbidden. Use of library resources for commercial purposes is prohibited. General regulations concerning use of computers and networks must be observed. Excessive data traffic on Harvard’s computer network is not allowed.

In addition, care must be taken to avoid excessive use of University resources, misuse of University facilities and information provided primarily for Harvard’s teaching and research missions, and activities that might jeopardize the tax-exempt status of the University or its property. Students must establish a means of communication with customers separate from those provided by the University for educational purposes. No student may list his or her dormitory address, campus mailing address or telephone number, Harvard email or Internet address, or Harvard Website in conjunction with any business enterprise, or in any way suggest that Harvard endorses or sponsors the business. Harvard reserves the right to restrict or control student business use of its resources, facilities, academic product, copyrighted materials, and institutional data.

Student businesses are considered outside vendors by the College and must follow the Handbook rules concerning solicitation on campus. Sales activities are permitted only with permission and at the discretion of the office granting permission (e.g. the Director of Student Employment or the Office of the Dean). Distribution of materials on campus must be conducted through Harvard Student Agencies. Student businesses are not allowed to poster or door drop on campus.

Other areas of concern, which could cause the College to prohibit the student business, include:

Student businesses may be required to seek approval in advance for operations that directly impact University offices, operations, facilities, or resources.

Other Regulations

Regulations Concerning the Use of University Resources

Membership in the University affords students access to a wide array of resources including among others one of the world’s greatest libraries, extensive computing and network facilities, laboratories, and works of art and architecture of immeasurable value. Access to these resources makes time at Harvard a special privilege, and students have both rights and responsibilities regarding their use. To safeguard the integrity of such resources, the University relies on its students to use them with care, appropriately, and as authorized; to respect the rights of others who also have access; and to observe the rules granting access to, and use of, those resources. Failure to abide by the rules governing their use ordinarily will result in disciplinary action.

Libraries and Library Books

The heart of the University is its library: the store of knowledge around which its functions are organized. The books in Harvard’s libraries constitute some of its most valuable assets, and it is essential that all members of the community have reasonable access to them. A student who violates the use and lending policies of any library may be subject to disciplinary action. In particular, removal of a book from any library without authorization or the mutilation, defacement, or abuse of any library book or library resource will result in disciplinary action, ordinarily a requirement to withdraw from the College (see also Responsibilities of Library Users).

Use of Computers and Networks

Students who are provided access to University computer facilities and to the campus-wide communication network assume responsibility for their appropriate use. The University expects students to be careful, honest, responsible, and civil in the use of computers and networks. Those who use wide-area networks (such as the Internet) to communicate with individuals or to connect to computers at other institutions are expected to abide by the rules for the remote systems and networks as well as those for Harvard’s systems.

Be advised that, in addition to violating College rules, certain computer misconduct is prohibited by federal and state law and is, therefore, subject to criminal and civil penalties. Such misconduct includes knowingly gaining unauthorized access to a computer system or database; falsely obtaining electronic services or data without payment of required charges; intentionally intercepting electronic communications; and obtaining, altering, or destroying others’ electronic information. Similarly, serious legal penalties may result from the use of Harvard’s computers or network to violate copyright laws, as is possible with the use of peer-to-peer filesharing programs. Moreover, a student may be held responsible for misuse that occurs by allowing a third party access to the student’s own computer, account, or network connection.

The basic rules for the appropriate use of computers and networks are outlined below. Other policies may be found at Computer Rules and Responsibilities on the FAS Information Technology Website. Students are expected to abide by these rules and policies and to consult an official of FAS Information Technology prior to any activity that would appear to threaten the security or performance of University computers and networks. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.

Use of Facilities

Computer and network facilities are provided to students primarily for their educational use. These facilities have tangible value. Consequently, attempts to circumvent accounting systems or to use the computer accounts of others will be treated as forms of attempted theft.

Students may not attempt to damage or to degrade the performance of Harvard’s computers and networks and should not disrupt the work of other users. Students may not attempt to circumvent security systems, or to exploit or probe for security holes in any Harvard network or system, nor may students attempt any such activity against other systems accessed through Harvard’s facilities. Execution or compilation of programs designed to breach system security is prohibited unless authorized in advance. Students assume personal responsibility for the use of their accounts. Consequently, students may not disclose their passwords or otherwise make Harvard’s facilities available to unauthorized individuals (including family or friends). Moreover, the possession or collection of others’ passwords, PINs, private digital certificates, or other secure identification information is prohibited. Use of Harvard’s computers and networks for business-related purposes without authorization by the Harvard College Business Advisory Committee is prohibited.

Privacy of Information

Information stored on a computer system or sent electronically over a network is the property of the individual who created it. Examination, collection, or dissemination of that information without authorization from the owner is a violation of the owner’s rights to control his or her own property. Systems administrators, however, may gain access to users’ data or programs when it is necessary to maintain or prevent damage to systems or to ensure compliance with other University rules. Such access will be limited to those staff with a direct job role in maintaining the availability of the FAS computing environment, and at no time will result in student personal information being copied or disclosed to any other person.

Computer systems and networks provide mechanisms for the protection of private information from examination. These mechanisms are necessarily imperfect and any attempt to circumvent them or to gain unauthorized access to private information (including both stored computer files and messages transmitted over a network) will be treated as a violation of privacy and will be cause for disciplinary action.

In general, information that the owner would reasonably regard as private must be treated as private by other users. Examples include the contents of electronic mail boxes, the private file storage areas of individual users, and information stored in other areas that are not public. That measures have not been taken to protect such information does not make it permissible for others to inspect it.

On shared and networked computer systems certain information about users and their activities is visible to others. Users are cautioned that certain accounting and directory information (for example, user names and electronic mail addresses), certain records of file names and executed commands, and information stored in public areas, are not private. Nonetheless, such unsecured information about other users must not be manipulated in ways that they might reasonably find intrusive; for example, eavesdropping by computer and systematic monitoring of the behavior of others are likely to be considered invasions of privacy that would be cause for disciplinary action. The compilation or redistribution of information from University directories (printed or electronic) is forbidden. For further explanation and details, see Computer Rules and Responsibilities.

Electronic Communication

Harvard neither sanctions nor censors individual expression of opinion on its systems. The same standards of behavior, however, are expected in the use of electronic mail as in the use of telephones and written and oral communication. Therefore, electronic mail, like telephone messages, must be neither obscene nor harassing (see Harassment and Obscene or Harassing Telephone Calls). Similarly, messages must not misrepresent the identity of the sender and should not be sent as chain letters or "broadcast" indiscriminately to large numbers of individuals. This prohibition includes unauthorized mass electronic mailings. For example, email on a given topic that is sent to large numbers of recipients should in general be directed only to those who have indicated a willingness to receive such email.

Intellectual Property and Copyrighted Materials

Computer programs written as part of one's academic work should be regarded as literary creations and subject to the same standards of misrepresentation as copied work (see Plagiarism and Collaboration). In addition, attempts to duplicate, use, or distribute software or other data without authorization by the owner is prohibited.

All Harvard users must respect the copyrights in works that are accessible through computers connected to the Harvard network. Federal copyright law prohibits the reproduction, distribution, public display, or public performance of copyrighted materials without permission of the copyright owner, unless fair use or another exemption under copyright law applies. In appropriate circumstances, Harvard will terminate the network access of users who are found to have repeatedly infringed the copyrights of others.

Information about the application of copyright law to peer-to-peer file sharing of music, movies and other copyrighted works is available at Students with questions about copyright or this policy are invited to raise those questions with an appropriate dean, tutor or academic officer.

Harvard University Identification Cards

All students receive a Harvard University Identification Card.  ID Cards are the property of Harvard University and are intended for University purposes only. The cards are required for admission to most Harvard activities and facilities including libraries, museums, dining halls, athletic buildings, and student residences. Some facilities may also require a sticker for entry. The front of the card and the magnetic stripes on the back, however, must be kept free from stickers.

First-term students are encouraged to submit an ID Card photo using Harvard University’s ID Card Photo Submission Web Application. If a photo is successfully submitted, the Student ID card will be printed.  When the first-term students arrive on campus, they must bring government-issued identifications to facilitate photo and identity validation before they can receive their Harvard ID Cards. If a photo is not successfully submitted using the ID Card Photo Submission Application, students will receive instructions from their school when and where they will have an opportunity to have their ID Card Photo taken on campus, as well as when they can receive their Student ID Card.

Every student will keep their ID Card while they are enrolled at Harvard University and is responsible for his or her ID Card and the consequences of its misuse. ID cards are not transferable; a student may not allow any other person to use his or her ID card for any purpose. A student who alters or falsifies his or her ID card or produces or distributes false identification cards of any kind is subject to disciplinary action. Lost cards should be reported immediately to Harvard University ID Services Office, Holyoke Center 953. There is a replacement fee of $20 for the first and second losses; a fee of $40 is charged for the third and subsequent losses.

Students must present their ID Card or otherwise identify themselves upon request to any properly identified employee of the University. Surrendered ID Cards will be transmitted immediately to the student’s Resident Dean or other appropriate Dean.

Fire Regulations

Fire alarms, smoke detectors, and fire extinguisher systems have been placed throughout the University for the protection of those who live and work in Harvard’s buildings. Misuse of these systems endangers both life and property and can lead to disciplinary action, including requirement to withdraw. For the same reason, violation of any of the fire safety or fire emergency regulations listed below must be considered a serious offense requiring serious disciplinary action.

Threats Involving Deadly Weapons, Explosives, Bombs, Chemical or Biological Agents, or Other Deadly Devices or Substances

The following provision of Massachusetts law concerning certain kinds of threats underscores why such behavior must be treated by the College as an actionable offense:

Whoever willfully communicates or causes to be communicated, either directly or indirectly, orally, in writing, by mail, by use of a telephone or telecommunication device including, but not limited to, electronic mail, Internet communications and facsimile communications, through an electronic communication device or by any other means, a threat… that a firearm, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or assault weapon, as defined in section 121 of chapter 140, an explosive or incendiary device, a dangerous chemical or biological agent, a poison, a harmful radioactive substance or any other device, substance or item capable of causing death, serious bodily injury or substantial property damage, will be used at a place or location, or is present or will be present at a place or location, whether or not the same is in fact used or present…. shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 20 years or imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2 1/2 years, or by fine of not more than $10,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Whoever willfully communicates or causes to be communicated such a threat thereby causing either the evacuation or serious disruption of a school, school related event, school transportation, or a dwelling, building, place of assembly, facility or public transport, or an aircraft, ship or common carrier, or willfully communicates or causes serious public inconvenience or alarm, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not less than 3 years nor more than 20 years or imprisonment in the house of correction for not less than 6 months nor more than 2 1/2 years, or by fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $50,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

[Massachusetts General Laws, c. 269 § 14(b)-(c)]

In the event that a student is threatened by any of the means above, contact the HUPD at  617-495-1212.

Firearms, Explosives, Combustible Fuels, Firecrackers, and Dangerous Weapons

Possession and/or use on University property of firearms or other dangerous weapons (as defined below), or ammunition, explosives, combustible fuels, firecrackers, and potential ingredients thereof is forbidden by University policy. The College may make occasional exceptions, on a case by case basis, for students who wish to participate in club sports that involve the use of dangerous weapons (as defined below), but in all such cases advance approval must be obtained from both the HUPD and the Club Sports Office, and the participating students must comply with any and all College rules and requirements for use and storage of the weapons. College rules require, at a minimum, that any weapons shall be stored in a secure place and not in a student’s room. The applicable Massachusetts law is as follows:

Whoever, not being a law enforcement officer, and notwithstanding any license obtained by him under the provisions of chapter one hundred and forty, carries on his person a firearm as hereinafter defined, loaded or unloaded or other dangerous weapon in any building or on the grounds of any elementary or secondary school, college or university without the written authorization of the board or officer in charge of such elementary or secondary school, college or university shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both. For the purpose of this paragraph, “firearm” shall mean any pistol, revolver, rifle or smoothbore arm from which a shot, bullet or pellet can be discharged by whatever means.

Any officer in charge of an elementary or secondary school, college or university or any faculty member or administrative officer of an elementary or secondary school, college or university failing to report violations of this paragraph shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars.

[Massachusetts General Laws, c. 269 § 10(j)]

Under Massachusetts law, the definition of dangerous weapons includes many items designed to do bodily injury:

… any stiletto, dagger or a device or case which enables a knife with a locking blade to be drawn at a locked position, any ballistic knife, or any knife with a detachable blade capable of being propelled by any mechanism, dirk knife, any knife having a double-edged blade, or a switch knife, or any knife having an automatic spring release device by which the blade is released from the handle, having a blade of over one and one-half inches, or a slung shot, blowgun, blackjack, metallic knuckles or knuckles of any substance which could be put to the same use with the same or similar effect as metallic knuckles, nunchaku, zoobow, also known as klackers or kung fu sticks, or any similar weapon consisting of two sticks of wood, plastic or metal connected at one end by a length of rope, chain, wire or leather, a shuriken or any similar pointed starlike object intended to injure a person when thrown, or any armband, made with leather which has metallic spikes, points or studs or any similar device made from any other substance or a cestus or similar material weighted with metal or other substance and worn on the hand, or a manrikigusari or similar length of chain having weighted ends…

[Massachusetts General Laws, c. 269 § 10(b)]

Students should recognize that even when they are away from the University, Massachusetts law requires a permit or firearms identification card or compliance with other specialized rules (depending upon the type of weapon) for possession of any firearms. The definition of firearms is broad, and includes pistols or guns operated by air, carbon dioxide, or other gases. Carrying any firearm (even if unloaded) in violation of the law is punishable by imprisonment with a mandatory minimum sentence of one year, which cannot be suspended or reduced. [Massachusetts General Laws, c. 269 § 10(a)]. Students should consult the local police department in the city or town in which they reside if they intend to possess firearms on non-University property, in order to assure strict compliance with the applicable statutes.

Betting and Gambling

Students are advised that many gambling activities are illegal under Massachusetts law. The state may bring a criminal action requiring that the winner of a bet forfeit double the value of the winnings, and anyone who loses money "at cards, dice or other game" may recover the losses from the winner through civil action. Bookmaking is illegal: there are severe penalties, up to a fine of $3,000 and three years in prison, for keeping, occupying, or being found in any place used “for registering bets, or buying or selling [betting] pools, upon the result of a trial contest of skill, speed, or endurance of man, beast, bird, or machine, or upon the result of a game, competition, political nomination, appointment or election.” Use of the telephone or mail for gambling activities is also illegal. Provisions of federal law also govern organized gambling activities. The Cambridge License Commission dictates that under no circumstances are casino nights, Las Vegas nights, or any other type of gambling allowed in the City of Cambridge.

Under NCAA Bylaws, a student athlete who is involved in betting or gambling activities relating to intercollegiate athletics risks loss of eligibility. Students participating in intercollegiate athletics are expected to be familiar with The Student Athlete Handbook, which is distributed by the Department of Athletics.


Students are advised that Massachusetts law expressly prohibits any form of hazing in connection with initiation into a student organization. The law applies to all student groups, whether or not officially recognized, and to practices conducted both on and off campus. All such student groups (including not only groups officially recognized by the College but also final clubs, fraternities, sororities, and the like) must provide the Office of the Dean of Harvard College with contact information for all undergraduate officers by October 31, and must sign and return to the Office of the Dean of Harvard College the College’s non-hazing attestation form by December 15.

The term “hazing,” under Massachusetts law, means: “any conduct or method of initiation… which willfully or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of any student or other person.” The definition specifically includes “whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the weather, forced consumption of any food, liquor, beverage, drug or other substance, or any other brutal treatment or forced physical activity which is likely to adversely affect the physical health or safety of any such student or other person, or which subjects such student or other person to extreme mental stress, including extended deprivation of sleep or rest or extended isolation.” [Massachusetts General Laws, c. 269 § 17]

Hazing is a crime punishable by fine and/or imprisonment. The Administrative Board of the College will consider all reports of hazing in the normal course of this oversight, taking disciplinary action in appropriate cases, and will report confirmed incidents to appropriate law enforcement officials. Where serious harm, or the potential for serious harm, has come to any person as a result of hazing by members of a student group, whether or not such group is officially recognized by the College (either on campus or off campus), and the individual or individuals directly responsible are not identified, the host or hosts of the event or activity will be held personally responsible. If the hosts are also not identified, the officers of the organization will be held personally responsible. In considering such cases, the Administrative Board will apply the College’s amnesty policy (set forth within the section on Drugs and Alcohol, subsection Disciplinary Action), and also may consider as mitigating factors with respect to possible disciplinary action the efforts made by the hosts or officers to prevent the harmful or potentially harmful situation, as well as their cooperation with the College’s investigation of the situation. A memorandum detailing the specifics of this law is available in the Office of the Dean of Harvard College (617-495-1558).

The failure to report hazing also is illegal, under Massachusetts law:

Whoever knows that another person is the victim of hazing as defined in section seventeen and is at the scene of such crime shall, to the extent that such person can do so without danger or peril to himself or others, report such crime to an appropriate law enforcement official as soon as reasonably practicable. Whoever fails to report such crime shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars.

[Massachusetts General Laws, c. 269 § 18]