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Student Handbook

Student Handbook: Standards of Conduct in the Harvard Community

General Standards of Conduct

It is the expectation of the Harvard Graduate School of Education that its students, whether or not they are on campus or are currently enrolled as degree candidates, will behave in a mature and responsible manner, in accordance with HGSE’s standards of personal and professional conduct and accountability. In doing so, students help create a dynamic and inspiring atmosphere for learning and growth and demonstrate the core principles effective educators instill in their professional work and uphold in their daily lives. This expectation for mature and responsible conduct also encompasses accountability for one’s own well-being, including responsible decision-making regarding physical and mental health.

All HGSE students are expected to adhere to these overarching values:

  • Respect for the rights, differences, and dignity of others
  • Honest and ethical preparation and submission of all academic work
  • Honesty and integrity in dealing with all members of the community
  • Accountability for personal and professional behavior

Specific examples of ways in which students demonstrate these values include, but are not limited to: regular and timely attendance and participation in all HGSE course, program and other required activities; respectful, attentive behavior within and outside courses; appropriate conduct, judgment and tact in all personal and professional situations; effective and timely communication with all members of the Harvard community; appropriate judgment in responding to unethical, unprofessional or dangerous behavior on the part of others; respecting and respectful behavior regarding the privacy of all members of the Harvard community; and maintaining appropriate boundaries when dealing with others at HGSE, including, for example, in regard to educator/student relationships. In addition, students may not provide false information to university officials or disrupt or obstruct teaching, research or other university activities, nor may they engage in any form of: physical violence or abuse; hazing; sexual misconduct; harassment, coercion or other conduct that threatens the health or safety of any person; threats involving deadly weapons, explosives, bombs, chemical or biological agents, or other deadly devices; theft, misappropriation, or unauthorized use of, destruction of, or damage to property; violation of published university rules or federal state or local law on university premises or at university-sponsored activities; and misuse of library or computer facilities. Discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, creed, national origin, age, ancestry, veteran status, disability, or any other legally protected basis is also prohibited. Because students are expected to show good judgment and use common sense at all times, not all kinds of misconduct or behavioral standards are codified in this Handbook.

Conduct in the HGSE Virtual Community

The HGSE virtual community is a space in which students communicate, collaborate, and connect with one another, and with faculty, staff, alumni, and affiliates, in a manner that is consistent with the School’s values. Maintaining professional and respectful behavior in the HGSE online environment is critical to ensuring that all students are able to fully participate in the learning experience and opportunities, and to achieve their educational goals. Whether participating in courses (toward a degree, as a special student, or as an auditor), community events, or other HGSE online forums (including but not limited to platforms like The Hub, Slack, YellowDig, Canvas, and HGSE Facebook pages), all students are expected to adhere to the Standards of Conduct in the Harvard Community outlined above. 
While HGSE faculty and administrators will monitor our virtual platforms, students remain agents of their own actions. Postings or comments that disrupt the learning experience or compromise the academic environment for other students will be removed. Violations of these Standards of Conduct in the Harvard/HGSE Virtual Community may result in disciplinary action by the HGSE Committee on Rights and Responsibilities. Students are asked to report any violations to the Office of Student Affairs

Please note: non-HGSE students who are enrolled in HGSE courses are expected to uphold the policies set forth in the HGSE Student Handbook, including without limitation those related to academic integrity and the Standards of Conduct. Non-HGSE students include, for example, TAP students, cross-registrants, and voucher holders. HGSE may take any and all actions it deems necessary upon the discovery of a policy violation, including without limitation immediately requiring the non-HGSE student to withdraw from the course and notifying the non-HGSE student’s home institution, if applicable. Additionally, HGSE may preclude a non-HGSE student who has previously violated HGSE policy from registering in any future HGSE course.

HGSE Community Compact

Our Commitment

As we prepare for a safe and gradual return to campus activities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, HGSE remains committed to the three priorities we embraced at the start of the crisis:

  1. The health and safety of community members, their families, and the public;
  2. Academic progress and success for our students; and
  3. Sustaining our community and relationships with one another.

We expect the return to campus to be an evolving situation, and as we adjust our policies, procedures, and norms in response to changing public health considerations, HGSE will follow practices, policies, and guidance from Harvard University, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and federal agencies. HGSE also may decide to implement more restrictive policies than those issued by the government or the university, based on evaluations of our space and in consideration of the needs of our community. To learn about our current guidance and policies for accessing the HGSE campus, please visit HGSE’s coronavirus site

Our Community Compact

Because COVID-19 infects individuals by spreading across and within close community networks, we all share an obligation and a commitment to act prudently, safely, and in accordance with public health directives. This HGSE Community Compact spells out our shared responsibility and the expectations for anyone who is on our campus.

As an HGSE Community Member:  

  • I understand that Harvard and HGSE have adopted and may adopt additional requirements to promote the collective well-being of our community, and specifically the students, staff, faculty, and visitors to campus, and I agree to adhere to all such requirements. 
  • I will work to make sure I am informed of the most recent policies and guidance by consulting Harvard’s coronavirus site and HGSE's coronavirus site and reviewing HGSE community announcements, and I agree to comply with all such policies and guidance. I also will comply with any and all instructions posted on campus signage setting forth Harvard’s expectations and policies.
  • I will follow HGSE policies not just for my own health, but also to protect and safeguard the health of those around me. I also will strive to respect the personal space and preferences of others as they navigate face-to-face interaction in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • I acknowledge and accept that HGSE’s rules and guidelines may evolve as public health conditions change and as new research and guidance are developed. I accept that the activities allowed on campus may vary over time, and I will respect whatever current limitations or restrictions are in place.
  • I agree that if I develop symptoms of COVID-19, contract the virus, or am in contact with someone who contracts the virus, I will comply with all applicable HGSE, university, federal, state, and local protocols.
  • I will honor this compact when participating in projects and field work off-campus, out of respect for the other communities in which I engage.
  • I understand that my ability to enter and remain upon the HGSE campus is conditioned on my adherence to Harvard’s policies, HGSE’s community standards, and all relevant public health requirements.

I acknowledge these shared commitments and responsibilities as someone who expects to participate in HGSE campus-based work or activities, and I commit to doing my part to ensure the wellness of this community.