A message from President Bacow and Dean Gay

September 27, 2019

Dear members of the FAS community,

Yesterday, a member of our faculty returned to her office in the company of graduate students to find a note tacked to her door bearing hateful and obscene language that insulted her ethnicity and immigrant status, challenged her right to be at Harvard, and wished her ill. FAS colleagues and members of the Harvard University Police Department were present during the day to provide support, and a formal inquiry into this matter is now underway.

We write to you now to state unequivocally that we condemn this hateful act and all forms of hate speech, and that we will answer attacks on members of our community with every resource at our disposal.

Attacks of this kind are both personally damaging for those who experience them and an assault on our faculty’s fundamental commitments to academic excellence. Acts of bigotry and malice harm us all because they corrode the trust and respect that is essential to the open exchange of ideas. Those who commit acts of hate seek to disrupt our academic mission. As faculty, students, and staff, we all have a stake in ensuring that this is an educational community that lives the values of tolerance, civility, and inclusion that are essential to our work.

This has been a very difficult 24 hours for this faculty member and the local department. As we all find ways to support one another and to recommit ourselves to the values that define who we are as a community, we would ask that we do so in a way that is mindful of the need for privacy of those directly impacted. In situations like this, restoring a sense of normalcy and security is a leading concern. It is with this in mind that we have not shared more detailed information about the incident.

Among the many colleagues who have provided support in this moment, we want to express our gratitude to the Harvard University Police Department. If you have information that might be helpful to their ongoing investigation, please contact the Department’s Criminal Investigation Division at 617-495-1796.


Lawrence S. Bacow

Claudine Gay
Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences