Public and Personal Safety
On this page:
- Threats Involving Deadly Weapons, Explosives, Bombs, Chemical or Biological Agents, or Other Deadly Devices or Substance
- Firearms, Explosives, Combustible Fuels, Firecrackers, and Dangerous Weapon
- Drug and Alcohol Policies
- Fire Safety Regulations
Threats Involving Deadly Weapons, Explosives, Bombs, Chemical or Biological Agents, or Other Deadly Devices or Substance
The following provision of Massachusetts law concerning certain kinds of threats underscores why such behavior must be treated by GSAS as an actionable offense:
Whoever willfully communicates or causes to be communicated, either directly or indirectly, orally, in writing, by mail, by use of a telephone or telecommunication device including, but not limited to, electronic mail, Internet communications and facsimile communications, through an electronic communication device or by any other means, a threat: (1) that a firearm, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or assault weapon, as defined in section 121 of chapter 140, an explosive or incendiary device, a dangerous chemical or biological agent, a poison, a harmful radioactive substance or any other device, substance or item capable of causing death, serious bodily injury or substantial property damage, will be used at a place or location, or is present or will be present at a place or location, whether or not the same is in fact used or present; or (2) to hijack an aircraft, ship, or common carrier thereby causing anxiety, unrest, fear, or personal discomfort to any person or group of persons shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 20 years or imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 21/2 years, or by fine of not more than $10,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
Whoever willfully communicates or causes to be communicated such a threat thereby causing either the evacuation or serious disruption of a school, school related event, school transportation, or a dwelling, building, place of assembly, facility or public transport, or an aircraft, ship or common carrier, or willfully communicates or causes serious public inconvenience or alarm, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not less than 3 years nor more than 20 years or imprisonment in the house of correction for not less than 6 months nor more than 21/2 years, or by fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $50,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment. Massachusetts General Laws, c.269§ 14(b)-(c).
Firearms, Explosives, Combustible Fuels, Firecrackers, and Dangerous Weapons
Possession and/or use on University property of firearms or other dangerous weapons (as defined below) or ammunition, explosives, combustible fuels, fire-crackers, and potential ingredients thereof is forbidden by University policy. The applicable Massachusetts law is as follows:
For the purpose of this paragraph “firearm” shall mean any pistol, revolver, rifle or smoothbore arm from which a shot, bullet or pellet can be discharged.
Whoever, not being a law enforcement officer, and notwithstanding any license obtained by the person pursuant to chapter 140, carries on the person a firearm, loaded or unloaded, or other dangerous weapon in any building or on the grounds of any elementary or secondary school, college or university without the written authorization of the board or officer in charge of such elementary or secondary school, college or university shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or both. A law enforcement officer may arrest without a warrant and detain a person found carrying a firearm in violation of this paragraph.
Any officer in charge of an elementary or secondary school, college or university, or any faculty member or administrative officer of an elementary or secondary school, college or university that fails to report violations of this paragraph shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and punished by a fine of not more than $500. Massachusetts General Laws, c.269§ 10(j).
Under Massachusetts law, the definition of dangerous weapons includes many items designed to do bodily injury:
. . . any stiletto, dagger or a device or case which enables a knife with a locking blade to be drawn at a locked position, any ballistic knife, or any knife with a detachable blade capable of being propelled by any mechanism, dirk knife, any knife having a double-edged blade, or a switch knife, or any knife having an automatic spring release device by which the blade is released from the handle, having a blade of over one and one-half inches, or a slung shot, blowgun, blackjack, metallic knuckles or knuckles of any substance which could be put to the same use with the same or similar effect as metallic knuckles, nunchaku, zoobow, also known as klackers or kung fu sticks, or any similar weapon consisting of two sticks of wood, plastic or metal connected at one end by a length of rope, chain, wire or leather, a shuriken or any similar pointed starlike object intended to injure a person when thrown, or any armband, made with leather which has metallic spikes, points or studs or any similar device made from any other substance or a cestus or similar material weighted with metal or other substance and worn on the hand, or a Manriki-Gusari or similar length of chain having weighted ends . . . . Massachusetts General Laws, c. 269 § 10(b).
In addition, students should recognize that even when they are away from the University, Massachusetts law requires a permit or firearms identification card or compliance with other specialized rules (depending upon the type of weapon) for possession of any firearms. Carrying any firearm (even if unloaded) in violation of the law is punishable by imprisonment with a mandatory minimum sentence of eighteen months, which cannot be suspended or reduced. Massachusetts General Laws, c. 269 § 10(a).
Students should consult the local police department in the city or town in which they reside if they intend to possess firearms on non-University property, in order to assure strict compliance with the applicable statutes.
Drug and Alcohol Policies
Officers of the University will respond to:
- the use of illicit drugs
- underage possession or consumption of alcohol
- the serving of alcohol to underage individuals
- the overconsumption of alcohol with a warning and/or referral to health or counseling services.
Although Massachusetts law now permits adults aged 21 or older to possess and consume marijuana under certain circumstances, federal law prohibits the possession, use, or distribution of marijuana, including for medical purposes, on Harvard property or as part of a Harvard activity. Thus, even if possession of use of marijuana would be permitted under Massachusetts law, it remains prohibited on campus.
GSAS students are responsible for following Harvard’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Policies. Violations of these rules can lead to a warning by the dean of students or disciplinary action by the Administrative Board.
Additionally, the Administrative Board will take serious actions, potentially including probation and/or requirement to withdraw, in any case involving:
- possession in quantity or the sale or distribution of drugs
- a student falsifying his or her identification with the intent of obtaining alcohol
- cases of drug and alcohol use involving danger to the community.
Fire Safety Regulations
In an emergency, dial 911
University Police: 617-495-1212
Any abuse of, or tampering with, fire alarm, smoke detector, or fire extinguisher systems is strictly forbidden. Falsely pulling any alarm or maliciously setting off a smoke detector alarm is illegal and may be punishable by a fine of up to $500 or imprisonment. Please note that corridor fire doors must be kept shut at all times.
Students who violate these fire safety or fire emergency regulations may be subject to disciplinary action by the Administrative Board, potentially including a requirement to withdraw.
A student who damages a smoke detector is subject to a fine, equal to the cost of a replacement.