A woman was raped as she walked through Harvard Yard early Friday, the university’s Police Department reported on its website.
In the posting, Harvard University police said the woman had entered the yard through the Johnston Gate around 3:05 a.m. when she was assaulted.
“The victim was grabbed as she entered the Yard through the Johnston Gate and was pulled behind Massachusetts Hall and attacked,’’ police said in the statement.
The victim was not a student or affiliated with the university, the statement said.
Police said the woman described her attacker as a man who was “very tanned,’’ in his mid-20s, and had a medium build and dark hair. He was wearing a white shirt at the time of the attack, according to the woman’s description.
The assault is being investigated by Harvard University police. Uniformed and plainclothes patrols have been increased “in and around the Yard and the surrounding campus,’’ police said.
The early morning rape left students attending a Harvard summer school program nervous.
“It’s so shocking, absolutely crazy,” said 15-year-old Noor Farhat, a summer school student from Lebanon. “My parents let me come here because they think Harvard is a safe place.
“I did feel safe here, but now — ” she said, her voice trailing off as she looked around the grassy common area in Harvard Yard.
Another summer school student, Carlos Vergne, 17, of Puerto Rico said Harvard security should be increased at night. “They need to make the campus more enclosed,” said Vergne. “It’s too open.”
Cutting through Harvard Yard, Chrystal Benedict, 27, who works in Cambridge, said she was not surprised by the news of a rape on the campus.
“With the partying and college kids around the area, it doesn’t surprise me at all,” she said. “I’ve heard that it’s not all that safe here at night.”
John R. Ellement can be reached
Derek J. Anderson at