College Unveils Social Distancing and Discipline ‘Compact’ for On-Campus Students


As Harvard prepares to welcome first-year students and a select group of upperclassmen to campus, the Dean of Students Office unveiled its “residential community compact” — a list of guidelines those residing on campus in the fall must follow.

“Harvard College aims to provide a residential environment that enables student learning and provides a safe place for students during the public health emergency occasioned by the global COVID-19 pandemic,” the compact reads.

“Because COVID-19 infects individuals by spreading across and within close community networks, it is essential that every one of us in the residential community enters into a shared obligation and commitment to act prudently, safely, and in accordance with public health directives,” it adds.

The release of the residential guidelines comes nearly a week after University President Lawrence S. Bacow, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay, and Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana announced the College would only provide on-campus accommodations for up to 40 percent of the undergraduate student population.


Those who do return will enter a residential situation bearing little resemblance to the one the College normally offers.

Students are expected to receive the seasonal flu vaccine, clean their own residential spaces and bathrooms, and only access their assigned residential buildings. They must “remain in the immediate area” and inform their resident dean of any plans for essential travel.

The residential guidelines also require students to participate in routine COVID-19 testing, wear masks or facial coverings in any public areas, refrain from inviting guests or other students into residential suites, and self-isolate if infected with coronavirus.

To further encourage social distancing, students will only have “limited access” to Faculty of Arts and Sciences buildings and “restricted access” to most buildings, including gyms and libraries. In addition, students are reminded that “virtual socializing” should be the “first option for social contact.”

Returnees who believe that they cannot comply with College rules are asked to “remove [themselves] from campus and complete [the] semester remotely,” according to the compact.

If they do not proactively do so, the document also outlines measures for removing students who transgress.

Students found in violation of the compact will have their “alleged” behavior reviewed by the Community Council, an assembly of Office of Academic Integrity and Student Conduct staff. The Community Council will then determine whether or not the student will remain on campus.

The compact urges students to abide by the guidelines as a means of protecting both themselves and other students.

“Residential students must be particularly sensitive to the fact that their neighbors or fellow residents are impacted by their decisions. In a de-densified residential setting, strong communication skills and empathy for others are important characteristics to cultivate,” the compact reads.

—Staff writer Sydnie M. Cobb can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @cobbsydnie.