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Harvard Law Fails to Adequately Handle Sexual Harassment Complaints
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Harvard mishandles sexual assault claims

Summary: The Department of Education has determined Harvard Law has failed to properly respond to sexual harassment complaints.

The Department of Education has launched a series of campus crackdowns, hoping to resolve and revise problems of college sexual harassment, and in its campaign it found Harvard Law School had failed to correctly handle two instances of sexual assault complaints. In one case, Harvard failed to provide a “prompt and equitable response” to assault claims, and the student involved had to wait over a year for a ruling, and was not involved in the long-draw appeals process. In that appeals process, the school reversed their first decision to dismiss the student.

  
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Last summer Harvard revised its protocol for handling sexual assault complaints, and also named a Title IX coordinator. The failure to provide a “prompt and equitable response” was a Title IX complaint, a law banning gender discrimination from organizations receiving federal funding. That, and another complaint, may have been part of Harvard Law’s cue to revise their sexual assault policy, which has changed to a “preponderance of evidence” standard for determining guilt in sexual harassment cases instead of a “clear and convincing” evidence standard.

28 faculty members of Harvard Law raised “strong objections” to the new policy in an op-ed piece for the Boston Globe, but the Law School has agreed with the Department of Education to abide by the new rules.

“As the conversation about sexual assault at colleges and universities spread to campuses across the nation, Harvard recognizes that, like many peer institutions around the country, we could and should do more,” said Harvard in a statement.

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Though this investigation into Harvard Law began in 2011 after a complaint from faculty at New England School of Law, the Office for Civil Rights has been investigating 85 colleges in an attempt to reform how they handle sexual assault charges. The Department of Education is investigating UMass-Amherst, UMass-Dartmouth, Brandeis, Boston University, Berklee College, Hampshire College, and Emerson College for possible Title IX violations.



Is Harvard Doing Enough to Protect Its Students?

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