A message from Dean Douglas Elmendorf

To Students, Faculty, Staff, and Fellows,

I have spoken over the past few days with many members of the Harvard Kennedy School community. I have heard your perspectives and your very real fears for yourselves, your loved ones, and the world.

The terror attack on Israel last weekend was horrifying. I am outraged by the savageness and brutality of the crimes perpetrated by Hamas against defenseless Israeli civilians, and I join many others in condemning those terrorist atrocities. I have been greatly saddened this week by the descriptions from our students of the deaths and suffering among their families and friends. As a community, we must acknowledge and care for those in our midst who are living through an unbearable new reality.

From the attack by Hamas and the widening war, thousands of innocent Israelis, innocent Palestinians, and people from many other countries have lost their lives in the past week. Hundreds of thousands have been wounded or displaced, and many more remain in harm’s way. I join our whole community in mourning this incalculable tragedy and in worrying deeply about the prospect of further suffering and loss of innocent lives in the days ahead.

Here at the Kennedy School, I am very concerned about the threats, vitriol, doxxing, and other menacing actions directed at members of our community, most or all of which have come from people outside Harvard. Such actions are unacceptable.

To help our community feel safe, we have increased the presence of Securitas officers at the School, the Harvard University Police Department is taking additional measures to enhance campus safety, and HUPD is working to address online threats. If you receive a threat, please contact HUPD immediately at 617-495-1212. In addition, through at least the end of next week, the main quadrangle will be accessible only through the main entrances to the Littauer, Wexner, Taubman, and Belfer buildings, and Securitas officers will be stationed at each of those entrances. And I want to emphasize that anyone who bullies, harasses, or threatens others within our community is violating our policies and is subject to disciplinary action.

I also want to reemphasize that everyone in this community bears responsibility for each other’s physical and psychological safety. If you see or hear anything that worries you—from outside or inside the School—please report it immediately to your program director (for students), manager (for staff), or the academic deans (for faculty). We must stand together against Antisemitism, Islamophobia, Xenophobia, and all acts of hate and violence against Israelis, Palestinians, and others in our community. More generally, this is an extremely hard time for many people here, and I urge everyone to support others who have been harmed or are fearful.

In the coming weeks and months, we at the Kennedy School will continue to do the essential work of evaluating and debating policies to make our societies safer, freer, and more just. We can choose to do so with rigor, humility, and compassion, and we can each ask ourselves how to contribute to a better future for all.