Statement of Mutual Respect and Public Discourse at Harvard Medical School

Watch the Center's Director, Robert Truog, discuss the rationale behind the statement and it's intent for the HMS community

In September, Harvard Medical School released a statement of mutual respect and public discourse, endorsed by a committee of students, staff, postdocs, and faculty, led by Harvard Medical School Dean for Diversity and Community Partnership Joan Reede and co-chaired by Center Director Robert Truog.

The rollout of this statement was discussed during Voices from the Community, where Dean Joan Reede, Center Director Robert Truog, and other members of the committee discuss their rationale behind the statement and its intended use in the HMS community. 
Watch the event.

Read the introduction and general principles below or see the full statement and event slide deck on the Harvard Medical School website.

Harvard Medical School Statement of Mutual Respect and Public Discourse

Harvard Medical School is committed to a diversity of views and to principles of free inquiry and expression, consistent with the HMS Mission and Community Values. All members of the Harvard community have the right to hold and vigorously defend and promote their opinions. Ultimately, HMS seeks not to negate, overlook, deny or simply tolerate the qualities that distinguish us but aspires to understand, recognize, appreciate, and indeed, celebrate our differences.

These qualities require HMS to emphasize certain values which are essential to its nature as an academic community. Among these are freedom of speech; freedom of movement; freedom from personal intimidation, force and violence; and freedom from hate speech, which is “any form of expression through which speakers intend to vilify, humiliate or incite hatred against a group or a class of persons on the basis of race, religion, skin color, sexual identity, gender identity, ethnicity, disability or national origin.” Interference with any of these freedoms must be regarded as a serious violation of the personal rights upon which the community is based. 

These values imply certain rights and responsibilities for all who attend and participate in HMS lectures, seminars, presentations or demonstrations that are held publicly, privately or virtually.

General principles

The right to speak and the right to dissent contribute to the value of academic discourse. The speaker is entitled to communicate their message to the audience during their allotted time, and the audience is entitled to hear the message and see the speaker during that time. A dissenter must not substantially interfere with a speaker’s ability to communicate or the ability of any audience member to see and hear the speaker.