The federal government has found Harvard Law School to be in violation of Title IX over its policy on sexual assault, and the school has agreed to revise its policies. In a statement Tuesday, Harvard University and Harvard Law School said that they have been “pro-active” in revising their sexual assault policies ahead of the resolution of the controversy, which was reached last week in a formal agreement with the U.S. Department of Education.
The Harvard Crimson notes that one of the reasons Harvard Law School was found to be in violation was that it required proof of sexual assault to reach a “clear and convincing” standard, rather than the far weaker “preponderance of the evidence” standard the federal government is attempting to enforce throughout the country. Other problems cited with Harvard’s prior policy include the time taken to resolve disputes, and the fact that accusers were not involved in some aspects of the disciplinary process, including discussion of sanctions to be applied to those accused of sexual assault.
Earlier this year, 28 Harvard Law School professors from across the political and ideological spectrum signed an op-ed in the Boston Globe protesting the school’s new, “preponderance of the evidence” standard. Professor Elizabeth Bartholet, director of Harvard Law School’s Child Advocacy Program, said that the new procedures are “inconsistent with many of the most basic principles we teach,” and that the university “appears simply to have accepted what the federal officials demanded without making any independent decision as to what would be appropriate new rules.”