Faculty Council Votes To Dismiss Student

An undergraduate has been dismissed from Harvard College after allegedly hacking into online accounts of the teaching staff in his courses.

The Faculty Council decided on May 5 to dismiss the student, who, according to Secretary of the Administrative Board John “Jay” L. Ellison, collected confidential information and used it to gain unauthorized access to the Registrar’s Office’s grading portal.

The student, whose name has not been released by administrators, designed a website to obtain the Harvard University IDs and the personal identification numbers (PIN) of his instructors.

“Their privacy was violated, and I think that violates a community standard that’s sacrosanct here,” Ellison said. In addition to obtaining improper access to teaching staff members’ accounts, the former student “was also dishonest in his dealings with the College and the Administrative Board,” Ellison said.

This dismissal—which severs the student’s ties with the University—marks the first since the Faculty amended its disciplinary policies on Oct. 6, 2009.

Previously, a vote of the full Faculty was required to dismiss an undergraduate, but the October reforms put the power of dismissal in the hands of the Faculty Council—the highest governing body of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The reforms were largely motivated by concerns over student privacy.

“There is something wrong with distributing to the whole Faculty, who may or may not come to the meeting, confidential and sometimes volatile materials,” English professor Elaine Scarry, a member of the since-dissolved Committee to Review the Administrative Board, said at the October Faculty meeting during which the changes were approved.

In addition, having a smaller group of Faculty members review a student’s case allows for a more thorough examination of that student’s situation, Ellison said.

“They were very engaged in the process. They were able to consider everything,” said Ellison about the Council’s involvement in the recently-dismissed student’s case.

Faculty Council member Harry R. Lewis ’68 agreed that the new system was successful.

“I thought the new procedure worked very well and came to a just conclusion,” he wrote in an e-mail.

—Staff writer Eric P. Newcomer can be reached at newcomer@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Naveen N. Srivatsa can be reached at srivatsa@fas.harvard.edu.

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