On Wednesday, 28 Harvard Law School professors published a statement in the Boston Globe protesting the new sexual harassment policy adopted by Harvard University as a violation of the due process rights of students accused of sexual misconduct. Prof. Elizabeth Bartholet told Breitbart News that Harvard’s new policy comes “very very close” to California’s new “yes means yes” law, requiring affirmative consent for sex on campus.
Bartholet, who directs Harvard’s Child Advocacy Program, said that Harvard’s new policy is not only unfair to the accused, but also has adopted rules that “are degrading and demeaning for women.” The policy assumes that women need special protection, and men need what liberal commentator Ezra Klein approvingly calls “a spike of fear.” Accusers need only prove their case by a “preponderance” of the evidence–the weak standard.
The result, Bartholet told Breitbart News, is that men could face unfair disciplinary processes that deny them representation and that result in their exclusion from any law school or from joining the Bar after graduation.
She adds: “What the student says [at Harvard] might be used in a related and subsequent criminal proceeding against him. But if the student doesn’t speak that could be used against him in the disciplinary proceeding.”
Bartholet and her colleagues wrote in the Globe that the new rules are “inconsistent with many of the most basic principles we teach.” She explained to Breitbart News that while “Harvard needs rules governing sexual assault of course…the law school and most likely all schools at the University already had such rules in place.” Those rules “were the product of many years work by two different sexual harassment committees and a great deal of full faculty involvement and thought” and likely “do a much better job than the new Harvard policy,” she said.
While there are many outspoken supporters of the Obama administration among the signatories, Bartholet cites a common frustration among the faculty that Harvard “appears simply to have accepted what the federal officials demanded without making any independent decision as to what would be appropriate new rules.”
“You cannot assume that all progressive people think single-mindedly that suppression of sexual conduct is the goal to be pursued at all costs and without consideration of other values,” she said. “Women’s rights advocates and feminists and left-leaning progressives have many different views of the appropriate way to resolve the complex issues in this area…. If you look at the signatories you will see a broad spectrum, including from classic left to right, and including of course many women on the faculty, many of whom identify as feminists.”
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak