Harvard University: Due Process Debate

Category: Due Process
Schools: Harvard University

In an extremely important victory for fundamental fairness on our nation’s private as well as public campuses, the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) dismissed a complaint against Harvard University. Wendy Murphy, a Boston lawyer, had alleged that revisions to Harvard’s disciplinary procedures—changes devised to eliminate baseless charges of misconduct between students—violated federal anti-discrimination laws. The OCR pointedly observed that Harvard’s new procedures are not unlawful, since the law "does not prohibit the use of due process. FIRE actively advised various critics of the old policy on what kinds of changes were needed, and it vigorously supports Harvard’s policy change.

  • US review finds no bias in Harvard’s revised policy on sex assault

    April 2, 2003

    By Jenna Russell at The Boston Globe An eight-month investigation by the US Department of Education concluded yesterday that Harvard College is not violating the rights of students by requiring them to provide ”corroborating information” before it will investigate their complaints of sexual assault. The attorney who asked for the investigation on behalf of Harvard students said she was satisfied with the outcome, and credited the federal inquiry with forcing Harvard to make key changes in its policy. The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights notified Boston attorney Wendy J. Murphy in a letter that it would close its investigation yesterday, after finding […]

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  • Letter from the Office for Civil Rights to Harvard University President Larry Summers, April 1, 2003

    April 1, 2003

    Dear Dr. Summers: This is to advise you that the Office for Civil Rights has completed our consideration of the above-referenced complaint, which was filed against Harvard University. The Complainant alleged that revisions to the peer dispute administrative procedures of Harvard College (College) discriminated against students, mostly female, who filed complaints of sexual assault. Specifically, the Complainant alleged that the amendments to the grievance procedure would deprive students of access to a prompt and equitable resolution of complaints, as required by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), by requiring grievants to present information showing “sufficient independent […]

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  • Letter to the Editor

    September 20, 2002

    To the editors: Your editorial (“Title IX Complaint Questionable,” Sept. 18) exhibits myopic and wishful thinking divorced from “real world” experience. My 35 years in criminal defense and civil liberties litigation give me a very different perspective. While Harvard would do well to re-think all of its disciplinary policies and procedures (not just in sexual assault cases), which have been notoriously deficient for both complainant and defendant for decades, the attempt to superimpose a rational screening mechanism before a case is sent to a full Administrative Board hearing is a step in the right direction. It does not unfairly disadvantage a […]

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