Dean of Students Dunne Again Threatens ‘Increased Sanctions’ for Students at Yard Encampment


Dean of Students Thomas Dunne said in a Saturday email to undergraduates that the pro-Palestine encampment in Harvard Yard has disturbed freshmen students trying to study for final exams and issued another warning that protesters will face disciplinary action.

Dunne’s email, which comes on the fourth day of the occupation of the Yard, marked his second public statement about the protest and indicated that the College will soon proceed with disciplining students if the encampment does not end.

“Those participating in the ongoing encampment and associated activities will face disciplinary consequences as outlined in existing policies. Repeated or sustained violations will be subject to increased sanctions,” Dunne wrote in the email.

Dunne wrote that the encampment has “taken over and occupied a central space in Harvard Yard” and caused noise disruptions for freshmen living in Yard dorms during “a critical juncture in the academic year when students study and prepare for examinations and complete end-of-term projects.”


Dunne also addressed the increased restrictions to access to the Yard, which was closed to the public indefinitely as of Friday evening. Two more gates — Johnston and Sever — were completely closed as of 10 p.m. Friday as Harvard officials seek to prevent non-Harvard affiliates from entering the Yard.

“In addition, concerns about the safety of our community – particularly with a number of students sleeping outdoors in tents overnight – have required limiting access to Harvard Yard and restricting events within the Yard to Harvard ID holders only,” he wrote.

“Those participating in the encampment further these and other ongoing interferences with the normal activities of Harvard Yard,” Dunne added.

Dunne remains the only top Harvard official to issue a statement about the encampment thus far.

Harvard spokesperson Jason A. Newton wrote that the University is “closely monitoring the situation and are prioritizing the safety and security of the campus community” in a Wednesday statement.

Organizers from Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine — a coalition of pro-Palestine organizations — mounted the encampment early Wednesday afternoon. As the encampment enters its fourth day, organizers have maintained that they intend to remain until the University meets their demands or they are forced to leave.

The groups’ demands include that Harvard disclose and divest from investment and companies in the West Bank and that administrators refrain from taking disciplinary action against students. Harvard has repeatedly opposed calls for its divestment from Israel.

Harvard University Police Department Chief Victor A. Clay said Friday that the encampment has remained peaceful and that HUPD is not prepared to make arrests, as police officers have at Columbia University, Yale University, and Emerson College. Still, Chabad Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi said he had received complaints from Jewish freshmen, who live in the Yard, that the encampment has made them feel unsafe.

Dunne first warned of “disciplinary consequences” for participants in the encampment, which he wrote was a violation of the College’s policies, in a Thursday email to undergraduates. His email marked the first public communication from any University official on the encampment.

Administrators, including Dunne and Associate Dean of Students Lauren E. Brandt ’01, have returned to the encampment to photograph or note down student ID numbers each day since the encampment began.

Though it is still unclear how Harvard will address the expanding encampment — which has grown to over 40 tents as of Saturday — Harvard administrators have extended the Yard closure to the public until further notice.

Previously, the University restricted access to the Yard to Harvard ID holders in apparent anticipation of protests on campus. Signs posted to gates warned of disciplinary measures against Harvard students and affiliates who bring in unauthorized structures such as tents or tables or block access to building entrances.

—Staff writer Michelle N. Amponsah can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @mnamponsah.

—Staff writer Joyce E. Kim can be reached at Follow her on X at @joycekim324.