Harvard Law Faculty Urge University to Rethink Sexual Misconduct Policy

A number of current and retired Harvard Law School professors believe the policy adopted in July, violates the due process rights of the accused.

Twenty-eight current and retired Harvard Law School professors are urging the university to rethink its new sexual misconduct policy and draft new guidelines for investigations. They believe the new rules violate the due process rights of the accused, according to a report by the Boston Globe. The faculty members sent an op-ed piece to the newspaper expressing as much earlier this week.

One of the faculty members who signed the piece, Alan M. Dershowitz, told the Globe this was a case of “political correctness run amok.”

At issue, is a provision of the new misconduct policy adopted in July. This provision adopts a “preponderance of evidence” standard when determining whether or not a sexual assault occurred. Harvard released a statement Tuesday night that said the new policy was enacted after a two-year review of its current practices regarding sexual misconduct and that the new policy creates an objective mechanism for investigation. The misconduct policy also establishes a university Office for Sexual and Gender-based Dispute Resolution.

The new policy comes on the heels of an announcement by the U.S. Department of Education that Harvard University was among dozens of colleges the agency was investigating for federal Title IX violations. The professors arguing against the new misconduct policy claim the recently established investigative unit on campus is simply an act of Title IX compliance rather than a truly impartial body and that the university’s misconduct policy fails to ensure adequate representation for the accused. They also claim the policy does not adequately address the complexity of cases involving students who may be impaired.

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