Last night, several hundred demonstrators converged on the Harvard campus to express their support for the Occupy movement. The demonstrators consisted of people from within and outside the Harvard community. At the conclusion of the evening, Harvard students erected tents in the Yard, which remained through the night. We are writing now to explain the principles that have informed, and will continue to inform, our response to these activities.

First, we respect and protect the rights of members of the Harvard community to express their views on matters of public debate. These rights, of course, are tempered by the rights of other members of our community to express their views, and our need to live, study, and work in an educationally appropriate environment. Last night, people with Harvard identification were permitted access to the Yard and, consistent with our values as an educational institution, had the ability to demonstrate, to speak, and to engage in other expressive conduct.

Second, the University has a fundamental obligation to be attentive to the safety, security, and well-being of its students, faculty, and staff on campus. The events of last night raised safety concerns: The number of demonstrators was large, many of the demonstrators were not from Harvard, and specific behaviors were troubling. For this reason, the University took what we consider to be appropriate security precautions as the situation evolved during the evening.

The decision by students and other members of the Harvard community to erect tents in the Yard will require that the University continue with heightened security measures for the time being. Most importantly, no one without a Harvard identification will be permitted into the Yard. We recognize and apologize for the inconvenience this will cause to students, faculty, staff, and neighbors. But securing access to the Yard is necessary for the safety of the freshmen and others who live and work there, for the students who will be sleeping outdoors as part of the protest, and for the overall campus.

— Alan M. Garber, Provost

— Katie Lapp, Executive Vice President

Growing strong