Faculty Meeting Plans to Address Honor Code, Email Searches Not On Agenda

Even though a long-awaited discussion on a school-wide honor code will take precedence on the agenda of this month’s Faculty meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, professors said they still expect to find time to discuss secret email searches uncovered in early March.

Tuesday’s meeting will be the first since revelations that Harvard administrators authorized the covert search of 16 resident deans’ email accounts last fall, opening what many have called a breach of trust between the faculty and administrators. The searches have prompted many to call for greater transparency and an assurance from the administration that faculty privacy is protected.

But the meeting is also the first chance faculty will have to discuss the implications of the Government 1310 cheating scandal and broader questions of academic integrity at Harvard, a dialogue absent from recent faculty meetings.

Mathematics professor Wilfried Schmid said he hopes that email searches are addressed but is glad to see the discussion shaped by academic integrity.

“I think that on balance, whether the process works well, I would say that if we look at these three items—the emails, the cheating scandal, and the SEAS issue—they have not been handled correctly,” Schmid said, the latter referencing the announcement that the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences would move to Allston.

History professor Maya R. Jasanoff ’96, who sits on the Faculty Council and chairs the Faculty Docket Committee, said the meeting’s agenda was crafted to give faculty a chance to talk about the broader issues of trust and communication raised by the email searches, while still allowing for several concrete proposals to move forward. These include a Committee on Academic Integrity report and a proposal for changes to reading and exam period, both presented by Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris.

While many professors said they were surprised the searches were not included in the meeting’s docket, most said they are confident that the issue will be addressed explicitly during question time and implicitly in the docketed agenda items.

Jasanoff said that she and the Docket Committee expect both Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith and University President Drew G. Faust to make statements about the searches.

“The email searches themselves as a fact, they happened, and we expect to hear certain responses from administrators about them, but in and of themselves they are not so much something that needs to be discussed,” Jasanoff said. “The bigger questions about trust, ...those are things that really need to be discussed and need to be discussed in the many, many forms in which they manifest themselves.”

—Staff writer Nicholas P. Fandos can be reached nicholasfandos@college.harvard.edu. Follow him on Twitter @npfandos.

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