CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Dozens of Harvard Law School faculty members are asking the university to withdraw its new sexual misconduct policy, saying that it violates basic principles of fairness and would do more harm than good.
“Harvard has adopted procedures for deciding cases of alleged sexual misconduct which lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process, are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused, and are in no way required” by the federal anti-discrimination law, known as Title IX, they wrote in an op-ed article signed by 28 current and retired members of the Harvard Law faculty and posted online by The Boston Globe on Tuesday night.
“It’s a totally secret process, in which real genuine unfairnesses can happen, and it’s so airtight that no one would know,” Janet Halley, one of the professors who signed the article, said Wednesday.
Harvard College and Harvard Law School are among the dozens of higher-education institutions under investigation by the federal Education Department over their handling of complaints of sexual assault or sexual harassment.
The federal government has threatened to withhold funds from universities that do not have adequate sexual misconduct policies.
So over the summer, Harvard, like many other institutions on the list, announced a broad new policy aimed at preventing sexual harassment and sexual violence. The policy, which went into effect last month, defined sexual harassment for the first time, and created new procedures for dealing with complaints.