After more than five months, a disagreement between Harvard University and Harvard Law School has been resolved regarding university-wide sexual harassment and sexual assault policies as reported on last week by Tipping the Scales. Both entities have agreed revise the standards to make them more congruent with the Education Department Office of Civil Rights’ recommended policies.
As part of the Obama administration’s use of Title IX, a law that prohibits gender discrimination at schools receiving funding, the Education Department is currently examining sexual assault cases at 92 schools. Harvard Law School is one of those schools. According to the Education Department, the law school’s current sexual assault policies do not provide a fair or prompt response to sexual assault allegations.
The Education Department cited two specific cases. The first example was a case in which the law school took over a year to make a decision regarding a complaint of sexual assault. When they did reach a decision, it was to reverse a decision to dismiss the accused and instead dismiss the accusers complaint.
The second case was thrust into the limelight when the Harvard Crimson published an intense letter to Harvard administration on March 31, 2014. The student spent a year trying to get officials to move a male student who she alleged had bit her and forced her into sexual actions. According to the letter, the female student had developed a mental illness, began struggling in the classroom, and dropped all of her extracurricular activities because of the incident.
In July the university changed its policies to match the Education Department’s recommended policies in which all allegations would be investigated and changed the burden of proof to a “preponderance of evidence.” The law school was one of a few schools at Harvard that used higher levels of evidence before the change and prompted more than twenty current and former faculty members to deem the change unfair.
The changes will also include an examination of all complaints since 2012 in accordance with Title IX. Finally, the school has agreed to conduct annual climate assessments to measure if the law school’s changes are effective.
Source: The Washington Post
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