Harvard

Twenty-eight of Harvard’s law professors issued a statement via The Boston Globe asking the university to reconsider its policy on sexual harassment and violence.

Included among the names are Alan Dershowitz, Charles Ogletree, and Philip Heymann.

Some of their concerns are as follows:

Harvard has adopted procedures for deciding cases of alleged sexual misconduct which lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process, are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused, and are in no way required by Title IX law or regulation. Here our concerns include but are not limited to the following:

■ The absence of any adequate opportunity to discover the facts charged and to confront witnesses and present a defense at an adversary hearing.

■ The lodging of the functions of investigation, prosecution, fact-finding, and appellate review in one office, and the fact that that office is itself a Title IX compliance office rather than an entity that could be considered structurally impartial.

■ The failure to ensure adequate representation for the accused, particularly for students unable to afford representation.

Harvard has inappropriately expanded the scope of forbidden conduct, including by:

■ Adopting a definition of sexual harassment that goes significantly beyond Title IX and Title VII law.

■ Adopting rules governing sexual conduct between students both of whom are impaired or incapacitated, rules which are starkly one-sided as between complainants and respondents, and entirely inadequate to address the complex issues in these unfortunate situations involving extreme use and abuse of alcohol and drugs by our students.

The profs conclude, in part, by noting “The goal must instead be to fully address sexual harassment while at the same time protecting students against unfair and inappropriate discipline, honoring individual relationship autonomy, and maintaining the values of academic freedom.”

Read the full statement.

h/t to Hans Bader.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

A whole dozen members of the Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM) protested outside Harvard’s Massachusetts Hall to give President Drew G. Faust a letter demanding she cut all ties with the group Teach For America — if the organization doesn’t make some changes, that is.

SLAM is miffed because, it claims, TFA’s two-year (teaching) requirement “undermines the quality of public education.”

The Harvard Crimson reports:

“We’re calling on Harvard to support and provide the resources for people who want want to have lifelong careers in public education, not people who want to teach for a couple of years and then go to law school or business school,” said Blake A. McGhghy ’17, a SLAM member who spearheaded the Harvard branch of the campaign.

The letter to Faust addresses three areas in which students hope to see reforms to Teach For America: demanding the organization only send students to areas in which there is a teaching shortage, providing corps members more education and training, and cutting ties with corporations the students think threaten teachers unions such as Exxon Mobil and JPMorgan Chase.

The caption under this photo says the protesters were chanting “education not privatization” … said protesters apparently missing the irony that they attend the most elite private university in the country.

TFA co-CEO Matthew Kramer defended his organization, noting “nearly 90 percent of TFA’s 37,000 alumni work in education or in low-income communities.”

But, it seems SLAM doesn’t believe this amounts to “education justice.”

Read the full article here.

(h/t to Adam Kissel.)

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: Merrimack College/Flickr

Yale University’s new report on campus sexual misconduct shows how the school is investigating accused students based on “hearsay,” giving unusually light punishments for supposed assaults and even punishing those it exonerates, according to a professor who co-wrote a book about the Duke University lacrosse rape case.

The twice-annual report – created under an agreement between Yale and the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights – illustrates that Yale’s procedures for dealing with complaints of sexual misconduct are “transparently rigged,” Brooklyn College history professor K.C. Johnson told The College Fix.

The University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct (UWC) report covers January through June and also updates cases that were unresolved in previous reports. It describes 64 complaints, compared to 70 for the previous report covering July through December.

The vast majority are classified as “sexual assault” and all but a handful involve undergraduates.

Many Varieties of ‘Assault’  – and Non-Reciprocal Oral Sex Recommended

The UWC’s formal process, its informal process and the Title IX coordinator handled similar numbers of sexual-assault complaints, though the coordinator handled the vast majority of sexual-harassment complaints.

The descriptions of the formal complaints span a few male-on-female scenarios without consent: “touching of a sexual nature”; “sexual intercourse”; “sexual activities”; and “certain acts without her consent during otherwise consensual sexual activity.” Only one says a female alleged the male “sexually assaulted” her.

Punishments included suspensions, restricted contact, “sexual consent training,” withheld degrees, and, in two updated cases, men who were expelled. But eight of the 13 formal complaints are listed as “pending,” and in just two did the school lack “sufficient evidence” against the accused.

Yale University LibraryThe informal complaints more often list “unwanted advances” or “unwanted communications,” and punishments tend toward counseling and restricted contact. Only one out of 12 remains pending. The 25 cases handled by the Title IX coordinator were far more varied, involving same-gender complaints, complaints against Yale faculty, staff, contractors and non-Yale students, allegations of “unwanted attention” and touching, and many “inappropriate comments.”

All but one of the 18 cases referred to the Yale Police Department ended with police giving the accuser “information on safety and victim services.”

Confusion over how Yale defines “nonconsensual sex” led the school last fall to release “scenarios” that would result in punishment, but some of them – which include a trigger warning and gender-neutral names for couples – are less than straightforward.

One suggests that sexual partners, who may both be drunk, must pay close attention to each other’s nonverbal cues, like showing less interest in sex than the other person, or risk penalties from “multi-semester suspension to expulsion.” Another counsels students not to reciprocate oral sex without getting “unambiguous agreement,” which could lead to a “reprimand.”

UWC Chair David Post, from the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, declined to comment specifically on the group’s work, instead providing UWC procedural materials to The College Fix. Yale’s communications office has not responded to questions.

Exonerated Student Punished, Lighter Penalty Suggests ‘Assault’ Was Not

The new report shows the public how Yale’s process is rigid and does not allow for a fair trial for the accused, Brooklyn College’s Johnson told The College Fix.

“Few people … would argue that a student’s due process rights are respected” under Yale’s complaint process, Johnson said by email. An accused male “can’t cross-examine his accuser, he has limited discovery rights, he can’t have a lawyer representing him in the process, and he can be branded a rapist based on a 50.01% belief in guilt by the disciplinary panel,” a lower legal standard known as preponderance of the evidence.

The UWC, which can vote on whether to move a complaint forward or not, is made up of 30 faculty, students and managerial or professional employees, according to Post. A background in law or law enforcement is not required to serve on the committee and any questions must be asked and approved by the hearing panel.

KC-Johnson-brooklyn.Biersaufer.WMCJohnson noted several irregularities in an essay for Minding the Campus, a Manhattan Institute project.

The informal process was used in seven assault cases this past semester, and zero in the previous report, Johnson said. He called it a “Scarlet Letter” approach in which an accused student’s inability to present evidence makes it “almost impossible” to avoid “being branded a rapist,” but the penalties are more limited, Johnson said.

One of the two accused students found “not culpable” – meaning Yale judged it “more likely than not he was the subject of a false allegation” – was still punished, Johnson noted.

The one-way no-contact order means that “if the two happen to enroll in the same course, the accused student would need to drop the class; or if the two happened to be assigned to the same dorm, the accused student would have to move,” Johnson said.

“In the several years” of the Yale reports, “there never has been any indication that Yale has punished even one student for filing a false claim of sexual assault,” Johnson said.

Yale also appears to have an “extraordinarily broad” definition of sexual assault, as shown by a lighter punishment – a one-year suspension – given to one student found guilty, Johnson said. The punishment “strongly suggests that his actual offense was not ‘sexual assault’” and yet the finding will likely prevent him from getting “any job that involves a background check that would access his college transcript.”

Even worse for another student was Yale expelling him after his accuser went to an administrator but declined to file a formal complaint, Johnson said: Yale continued the case, relying on the “hearsay” of the administrator to the Title IX coordinator.

And in one “Orwellian” example in the report, Johnson said, the Title IX coordinator is pursuing an accused student as a “serial rapist … even though none of the females he allegedly raped have filed a complaint, or have even been identified.”

Why Harvard Doesn’t Use ‘Affirmative Consent’

Following Yale’s lead, Harvard University recently set up its own Office for Sexual and Gender-Based Dispute Resolution. Harvard declined to comment to The College Fix but provided an article from the Harvard Gazette, the school’s official news outlet.

The new office is tasked with investigating “sexual misconduct complaints against students, ranging from persistent or pervasive harassment in a lab environment, for instance, to a rape,” Mia Karvonides, the school’s Title IX officer and former Office of Civil Rights lawyer, told the Gazette.

The Gazette pressed Karvonides on why Harvard didn’t adopt an “affirmative consent” standard for sexual relations, the subject of a California bill. She responded that “there is no standard definition of affirmative consent” and the only school to have anything close is Antioch College, where “consent is given step by step at every point of engagement during an intimate encounter.”

College Fix contributor Matt Lamb is a student at Loyola University-Chicago.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: Clyde Robinson/Flickr

The National Security Agency can legally monitor every American, inside and outside the U.S., “by collecting their network traffic abroad,” according to a working paper by researchers at Harvard University and Boston University.

This can happen without any checks and balances from Congress or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees surveillance requests from the NSA, said researchers Axel Arnbak of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Sharon Goldberg, a BU assistant professor of computer science.

The paper documents what it calls “interdependent technical and legal loopholes” that the NSA could use to snoop on American citizens inside the U.S.

Arnbak and Goldberg aren’t the only ones raising red flags. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent federal agency that ensures “liberty concerns” are considered in anti-terrorism policy, is reviewing the same NSA legal authority as the researchers, and a former State Department official warned in a recent op-ed the legal authority is prone to abuse.

The researchers focus on Executive Order 12333, which was issued by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to authorize foreign intelligence investigations, and the U.S. Signals Intelligence Directive 18. The executive order “has largely been ignored by the public and other branches of Government in recent months, especially since relevant legal documents related to EO 12333 remain classified or redacted,” the working paper said.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) limit the NSA’s authority to carry out domestic electronic surveillance, whereas the executive order does not have any congressional oversight and has never been subject to court review.

If messages between two people in the U.S. are intercepted and rerouted through overseas routers, Arnbak and Goldberg say, the NSA could stockpile massive amounts of data and content without violating U.S. law.

“There are various ways one could ‘deliberately’ reroute traffic international[ly] in a manner that is very hard to detect,” such as through “DNS cache poisoning,” Goldberg told The College Fix. She clarified that there’s no evidence “that the NSA or any other government agency is actually doing this,” and that her study with Arnbak was meant to shine a light on loopholes, not to disclose illegal wiretaps.

Executive Order 12333 is on the “short-term agenda” of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, following its review of Section 215 and FISA Section 702, Chairman David Medine said at the body’s July 23 public meeting.

The attorney general’s guidelines for implementing the executive order – some of which go back 30 years – had already been identified as “outdated, to say the least,” when Medine joined the board last year, he said. The board will keep advocating not only for the guidelines to be updated, but consider “how to approach 12333 more broadly” and look at staff recommendations for the order’s operations, he said.

It’s legal to collect an individual’s communications if that collection happens “incidentally” during the course of a lawful overseas foreign intelligence investigation, The Washington Post reported last month following a four-month investigation. An affected U.S. person, who may have never directly interacted with a lawful target, does not have to be suspected of wrongdoing, and there’s no limit on the volume of communications that may be collected and retained through such incidental eavesdropping.

Former State Department official John Napier Tye, who served as section chief for Internet freedom in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor until January and testified at Medine’s public meeting, warned in a Washington Post op-ed last month that Executive Order 12333’s definition of “incidental” is vague and ripe for abuse.

“‘Incidental’ collection may sound insignificant, but it is a legal loophole that can be stretched very wide,” Tye said. Citing reports that the NSA is building a Utah data center with its own power plant, he said. “‘Incidental collection’ might need its own power plant.”

While the executive order might have been a sensible measure in the past, with different levels of privacy for information depending on where it was gathered, “an email from New York to New Jersey is likely to wind up on servers in Brazil, Japan and Britain,” Tye wrote. “The same is true for most purely domestic communications.”

Arnbak agreed. “As long as you tailor your operation to those ancient laws,” he told The College Fix via email, “we find that a range of new surveillance techniques may be conducted fairly unrestrained.”

The NSA told the Boston Globe that neither the executive order nor the directive “authorizes targeting of US persons for electronic surveillance by routing their communications outside of the US.” The agency said that under federal law, it still needs to get a judge to approve a court order before it can “target any US person anywhere in the world for electronic surveillance.”

College Fix contributor Christopher White is a University of Missouri graduate student and an editorial assistant for The College Fix.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: EFF Photos/Flickr

Harvard prof Naomi Oreskes likes to fly. She has to, you see, in order to warn as many people as possible around the globe about our impending doom — by global warming climate change climate disruption. But somehow, she misses the irony:

It’s not clear when Oreskes will take her next lengthy flight, but in her lengthy and very impressive curriculum vitae, she outlines with a scholar’s specificity her penchant to fly around the globe routinely.

Truly, Oreskes has been an airline’s very best friend for years now. With a carbon footprint most climate change deniers could only rub their hands together deviously and dream about, she has spoken in a slew of American cities and at countless prestigious campuses domestically.

Abroad, her important environmental work has taken her on emission-emitting trips far and wide.

Just since June 2008 when then-candidate Barack Obama promised that his presidency would usher in “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal,” Oreskes has visited Norway, Germany, Denmark, New Zealand and Switzerland — just to name a few places. She also took an extensive tour of Australia in 2010 to promote a book she co-wrote, “Merchants of Doubt: How A Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming.”

Oreskes told The Guardian that climate deniers “… (have) dismissed the science. They’ve pooh-poohed the mounting evidence that disruptive climate change is already underway. They’ve assumed scientists were over-reacting.”

Her new book, The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future, is an historian’s account from the year 2393 of the “global collapse caused by global warming.”

No word on whether Oreskes’ own prodigious carbon footprint gets a mention in the story.

Read the full story at The Daily Caller.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: Martin Hartland/Flickr

Did the approval of a new honor code make a difference in the wildly different results on self-reported cheating between class years at Harvard?

Probably not.

The Harvard Crimson‘s senior survey found that 17 percent of Harvard seniors said they cheated while at Harvard. Plus:

Just 15 percent of all respondents admitted to cheating on a homework assignment or a problem set—less than half of the rate reported in a similar survey of the Class of 2013. …

Seniors were much more likely to suspect cheating among their peers than to admit to cheating themselves. On average, surveyed seniors guessed that 53 percent of the class had cheated on a homework assignment or a problem set, 32 percent on a paper or take-home exam, and 14 percent on an in-class exam.

Seniors weren’t particularly moved by approval this spring of a first-ever honor code, which won’t take effect for another year:

While the newly approved honor code will go into effect long after the Class of 2014 has left Harvard, just 12 percent of surveyed seniors said an honor code would have changed the way they approached academic integrity during their time as Harvard students.

The survey included 758 people, nearly half the graduating class, though not all answered every question, The Crimson said. The school suffered through a major cheating scandal two years ago.

There’s much more in the survey results, including non-straight students (15 percent of the class), non-theists (a whopping 38 percent), and males who regularly consume porn (48 percent), here.

h/t Campus Reform

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: Wally Gobetz/Flickr