according to the most recent campus climate survey, in the past year at harvard 12% of straight female undergraduates, 17.9% of LGBTQ female undergraduates, and 10.9% of LGBTQ male undergraduates experienced sexual assault. 73% of female undergraduates and 51% of male undergraduates have experienced harassment. 

On Thursday, May 26th, during commencement ceremonies, seniors are wearing red tape on their graduation caps in order to: 

1. Stand in solidarity with survivors of sexual violence who are graduating today, as well as with those who are not able to do so.

2. Demand that Harvard be proactive in creating a safer campus in which cases of sexual assault are treated justly by the administration.

3. Send a message of support to survivors and student activists at our peer institutions who have also demonstrated their commitment to survivors during their commencement ceremonies. 



Why did you choose red tape?

Red tape symbolizes the institutional barriers preventing students from creating the safe and inclusive environment necessary to put a stop to sexual violence and fully support survivors. This show of solidarity echoes those at Columbia and Brown’s commencements and comes amidst national mobilization on the issue of adequate and just responses to sexual violence.

Why are you doing a disruptive protest?

This protest is not disruptive. Our action is a symbolic show of support for peers whose time at Harvard has been marred by a horrific form of violence and some of whom have not received the support from Harvard to which they have a right. There will be no interrupting, no chanting, and no signs. This is a respectful gesture of solidarity for survivors, celebration of the work done by the senior class to bring attention to the issue of sexual violence, and call of urgency for the work that needs to be continued to create a safer campus.

What are you trying to accomplish?

By wearing red tape, we hope to show graduates, guests, and alumni that while we are proud Harvard graduates, we proudly call for productive dialogue about the prevalence of sexual assault on our campus and the inadequacy of Harvard’s institutional response. As we celebrate our time here over the past four years, we also demonstrate our belief that Harvard can do better.  

Why are you dampening what is supposed to be a joyous occasion?

Commencement is a wonderful moment for graduates and their families to celebrate their hard work and academic achievements. However, there is more to a Harvard education than what occurs in the classroom. We wear red to celebrate the leadership that the senior class has taken in striving to build a fairer and safer world – starting with survivors of sexual violence and other marginalized communities here at Harvard. Their work and achievements are also part of their education, and ought to be commended on this joyous day. 

How can I participate?

Just place a stripe of red duct tape on your graduation cap for Commencement Day ceremonies! Tape can be acquired from a representative in your house at breakfast on Thursday morning, or email harvardcommencement2014@gmail.com for more information.