Harvard University: Administration Threatened to Cancel ‘Barely Legal’ Party Due to Event’s Name

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Harvard University

Harvard University threatened to cancel a party planned by two Harvard student groups simply because of the party’s name: “Barely Legal.” The Latino Men’s Collective (LMC) and Fuerza Latina proposed that a party be held in the Adams House Dining Hall. Adams House administrators agreed to host the party, but once the party was publicized using the “Barely Legal” name, several students complained to the House masters. The student leadership of both LMC and Fuerza Latina publicly stated that they meant no offense by the party’s name and did not intend to glorify or encourage illegal activity. Nevertheless, Adams House administrators told LMC and Fuerza Latina they would not be allowed to hold the party unless the name was changed. FIRE wrote to Harvard explaining that threatening to cancel a student group’s party because some people found its name offensive was a clear violation of Harvard’s own binding promises of freedom of expression. The school responded claiming that Adams House has complete discretion over allowing student groups to organize events there.