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November 15, 2023

In challenging and difficult times, we have always been supportive of our students’ free speech rights, including the right to protest and dissent. At the same time, we must also underscore that Harvard’s and Harvard Law School’s rules and policies contain time, place, and manner limitations to protect our educational mission and our students’ right to pursue their education and daily lives without interference or disruption. We have received reports of activity interfering with and disrupting our students’ rights to pursue their education and daily activities. Particularly because any form of disciplinary proceeding may have professional consequences in a regulated profession, we write today to remind you of University and HLS policies that govern our community. 

We have shared these policies in prior communications but are collecting them here in a single message. We strongly urge you to refamiliarize yourselves with these rules:

The University Non-Discrimination and Anti-Bullying Policies address many forms of discrimination and harassment, including those based on religion or national origin. For anyone who believes they may be the target of discrimination, harassment, or bullying, Harvard Law School resources are available to answer questions about these policies. Every HLS student is expected to be aware of and abide by these and other policies and guidelines outlined in the Handbook of Academic Policies.

The University-wide Statement on Rights and Responsibilities assures freedom of speech while also making clear that its exercise must not disrupt or interfere with the school’s mission of teaching and learning or the right of our students to pursue their educations. The University-wide Statement on Rights and Responsibilities also makes clear that personal force or violence, personal harassment, restricting others’ freedom of movement, and conduct that interferes with the normal activities and operations of the school are prohibited. 

This means that activity must not interfere with or disrupt spaces at Harvard Law School where, among other things, our students and other community members teach and learn in classes, serve in clinics, reside, dine, study in libraries or other spaces, or otherwise do work in furtherance of the Law School’s educational mission. We want to remind everyone that the Law School’s lounges and other shared spaces are used for personal or small group study and conversation that respect the rights of others to use the space. The Law School has defined these as the “normal activities” for these spaces within the meaning of the University-wide Statement on Rights and Responsibilities. 

This has been an incredibly difficult time for many in our community and around the world, and our hearts go out to those who have suffered loss or are feeling sadness, pain, or fear today.