Harvard Admissions Goes to Trial
The admissions lawsuit that could shape the future of affirmative action escalated in 2018 as Harvard and plaintiff Students for Fair Admissions sparred over allegations of anti-Asian-American bias in the College’s admissions process.
1. Harvard Battles Allegations of Bias in High-Profile Trial
camera iconBy Amy Y. Li

The admissions lawsuit that could shape the future of affirmative action at schools across the country escalated in 2018 as Harvard and plaintiff Students for Fair Admissions sparred over allegations of anti-Asian-American bias in the College’s admissions process during a high-profile three-week trial this fall.

The trial marked the culmination of a year filled with increasing debate about affirmative action at the College and scrutiny of Harvard’s famously selective, and secretive, admissions process.

In April, federal Judge Allison D. Burroughs ruled to release thousands of pages of admissions documents to the public, though lawyers representing Harvard had previously argued that some of this admissions data should remain under seal.

The admissions data, detailed in filings made by each side in June, showed that Harvard hopefuls receive numerical ratings ranging from 1 to 6 on factors including academic promise, athletic ability, and extracurricular involvement. Applicants also receive a “personal” score, which rates them on qualities including “humor” and “grit.”

The court documents also revealed that a 2013 internal Harvard study concluded that Asian American applicants received lower personal ratings than applicants of other races. The filings also confirmed the existence of the “Z-list” and showed that legacies — the children of Harvard or Radcliffe College alumni — and recruited athletes often receive a boost in the admissions process.

At the end of July, every Ivy League university, 25 campus affinity groups, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the American Civil Liberties Union submitted amicus briefs to the court that supported Harvard’s position. The Asian American Coalition for Education filed a brief siding with SFFA on behalf of 156 Asian-American organizations.

The Department of Justice also weighed in, filing a “statement of interest” in August that argued Harvard perpetuates “unlawful racial discrimination” against Asian American applicants.

Prior to the trial, both sides rallied their supporters in dueling demonstrations near Harvard.

The trial kicked off Oct. 15 at the federal courthouse in Boston with opening statements from each side’s lawyers. College administrators including Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67, Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana, and former University President Drew G. Faust defended the College’s scoring system for applicants, socioeconomic makeup, and special treatment for applicants with ties to donors.

Statistical experts hired by each side also clashed over whether admissions data indicated that the College discriminates against Asian-American applicants.

In late December, Harvard and SFFA summarized their proposed “findings of fact” and “conclusions of law” in legal filings. Rebuttals are due by Jan. 23, with additional amicus briefs from outside parties due Jan. 9. Burroughs will hear an additional set of arguments from both sides on Feb. 13, and is expected to render a decision in mid-2019.

Legal experts anticipate the losing side will appeal the verdict and predict that the case will eventually reach the Supreme Court. The outcome of the trial will likely shape the future of affirmative action at private colleges and universities nationwide.

#MeToo Hits Harvard
The #MeToo movement — which has rocked the nation with a surge of public accusations of sexual misconduct — hit Harvard’s campus in full force this year as allegations surfaced against several prominent University affiliates.
2. Multiple University Affiliates Face Allegations of Sexual Misconduct
camera iconBy Christopher Kwok

Since its inception in 2017, the #MeToo movement has rocked the nation with a surge in accusations of sexual misconduct. This year, the movement hit Harvard’s campus in full force as allegations surfaced against multiple University affiliates.

#MeToo arrived at Harvard in February, when the Chronicle of Higher Education published two articles in which 18 women publicly accused then-Government Professor Jorge I. Dominguez of repeated incidents of sexual harassment spanning 40 years.

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences placed Dominguez on “administrative leave” in early March; shortly thereafter, he announced his retirement.

As students voiced concerns over how Harvard had handled past allegations against Dominguez, administrators formed a committee to examine the Dominguez “situation” and address “inappropriate power dynamics” and “gendered interactions” in the department. After issuing a preliminary report, the committee conducted a climate survey in October.

The #MeToo movement continued at the Graduate School of Design in April, when affiliates began circulating “Shitty Architecture Men,” a spreadsheet containing allegations of sexual misconduct against more than 100 people — among them 18 Design School students, faculty, and administrators, including Dean Mohsen Mostafavi.

After the allegations surfaced, the Design School announced plans to hire a diversity and inclusion officer. This fall, Mostafavi announced his retirement after 11 years as dean.

#MeToo returned to FAS in May when The Crimson broke the news that Economics Professor Roland G. Fryer, Jr. was being investigated by Harvard and the state of Massachusetts for sexual misconduct and had been barred by University officials from setting foot in his own lab.

At least two women had filed Title IX complaints against Fryer, then a rising star in the department. Fryer has repeatedly denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.

The University’s Office for Dispute Resolution concluded its first investigation in the fall and opened a second and third investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Fryer. In one investigation, ODR found Fryer engaged in “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature” in six of 32 counts, the New York Times reported.

Facing public backlash, Fryer resigned from his post on the American Economic Association’s Executive Committee in December. He had been elected to the position in October, months after The Crimson first made public the allegations against him. Days after Fryer’s resignation, hundreds of graduate students across the nation, including at least 18 at Harvard, signed an open letter calling on university economics departments to reform the way they handle allegations of misconduct.

In September, the nation watched as then-Harvard Law School lecturer and Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh testified in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing over allegations of sexual misconduct. Kavanaugh denied all allegations.

Law School students repeatedly protested the nominee and called on Harvard to bar him from teaching, while College students filed Title IX complaints against him. In October, The Crimson reported Kavanaugh would not return to teach at the Law School.

In November, the Miami Herald reported that Law Professor Emeritus Alan M. Dershowitz helped organize a plea deal for Jeffrey E. Epstein, a billionaire and convicted sex-offender with strong ties to Harvard who for years allegedly ran an underage sex ring.

One of the women Epstein reportedly trafficked, Virginia Roberts, alleged in a 2015 lawsuit that she had sex with Dershowitz multiple times at Epstein’s direction. Court documents recently filed in another lawsuit allege that Epstein also directed a second woman, Sarah Ransome, to have sex with Dershowitz. Dershowitz repeatedly denied both allegations.

President Bacow Takes Office
Considered to be the man for the moment with his decades of experience in higher education, Bacow takes charge at a time when Harvard finds itself subject to a slew of of lawsuits, a new endowment tax imposed by D.C. lawmakers, and criticism that the University only caters to America’s elite.
3. After Months-Long Search, Bacow Named 29th President of Harvard
camera iconBy Amy Y. Li

Following a months-long search process filled with secretive meetings and surprising twists, the Harvard Corporation selected Lawrence S. Bacow to be the University’s 29th President in February.

The nine-month search kicked off after former University President Drew G. Faust announced in June 2017 that she would be stepping down the following year. Led by William F. Lee ’72, the senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation — the University’s highest governing body — the team of 15 searchers from the Corporation and the Harvard Board of Overseers began interviewing candidates and higher education experts across the country.

In January, the search committee held a secret, all-day meeting at the home of Corporation member and searcher Tracy P. Palandjian ’93 in Belmont, Mass., where Crimson reporters identified at least three members of the committee. The meeting was one of at least 17 secretive meetings that the committee held during the search process.

On Feb. 12, after months of silence, the committee announced that Bacow would succeed Faust. Bacow formerly served as the president of Tufts University and the chancellor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Bacow — who has ties to Harvard Law School, Harvard Kennedy School, and Harvard Graduate School of Education — served on the search committee for months as a member of the Corporation before quietly stepping down to become a candidate. Bacow was hiding in plain sight: The Overseers’ eventual vote to confirm a leader from within the selection committee itself is without precedent in recent Harvard history.

In his first remarks as president-elect, Bacow spoke about the need to address criticisms levied at higher education, and he later told The Crimson he was in “sponge mode” learning about his new job. Over the summer, Bacow met with the deans of Harvard’s 12 schools and legislators in Washington, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck E. Schumer ’71 (D-NY), U.S. Senator Mike D. Crapo (R-ID), and U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA).

The University’s new president also made a string of administrative appointments early in his tenure, appointing Claudine Gay Dean of the Faculty of Arts Sciences in July. Gay, who previously served as dean of social science became the first woman and first person of color to hold the position.

Bacow was officially sworn into office at an Oct. 6 inaugural ceremony attended by his four living presidential predecessors, Massachusetts Governor Charlie D. Baker ’79, and student demonstrators protesting Harvard’s sexual misconduct policies, among others.

Considered to be the man for the moment with his decades of experience in higher education, Bacow takes charge at a time when Harvard finds itself subject to a slew of of lawsuits, a new endowment tax imposed by D.C. lawmakers, and criticism that the University only caters to America’s elite.

During his first several months in office, Bacow hit the road as part of his goal to convince people across the country that the University can have a positive impact on their lives. So far, Bacow has visited his home state of Michigan as well as San Diego, Calif.

Social Groups Fight Back Against Sanctions
As Harvard administrators worked to implement the new penalties against single-gender social groups, several final clubs and Greek organizations searched for ways to cancel the policy, trying everything from legislation to ligation.
4. Battle Between Harvard Administrators and Social Groups Culminates in Lawsuits
camera iconBy Kai R. McNamee

As Harvard’s single-gender social groups dealt with fallout from the College’s sanctions against their members, several final clubs and Greek organizations spent much of 2018 looking for ways to fight back — culminating in the filing of two civil lawsuits against the University in December.

Introduced in May 2016, the penalties bar members of unrecognized single-gender social organizations from holding leadership positions in student groups and varsity athletic team captaincies and from receiving College endorsement for certain prestigious fellowships like the Rhodes Scholarship. The policy took effect beginning with the Class of 2021.

At the close of last year, the Harvard Corporation — the University’s highest governing body — voted to keep the sanctions in a move intended to end the controversy and confusion once and for all.

But some social groups had other plans. As the policy altered the landscape of social groups in Cambridge, some organizations vowed to fight the sanctions however possible.

Two months after the Corporation voted to keep the sanctions, female Greek organizations saw a sharp drop in students interested in recruitment. The number of Harvard students interested in joining sororities dipped to less than half of that seen in previous years.

Weeks later, administrators delegated enforcement of the policy to the Administrative Board. In May, Dean of Students Katherine G. O’Dair unveiled a three-tiered system for granting official College recognition to social organizations, with each tier conferring upon groups additional privileges and responsibilities.

By fall, several of Harvard’s social groups had buckled under pressure from the College, choosing to disaffiliate from national parent organizations and to admit students regardless of gender. Each of Harvard’s four sororities closed in 2018, meaning the August decision of three female final clubs to go co-ed temporarily left the College without any all-female social groups.

In the nation’s capital opponents of the sanctions crafted a plan to imperil the policy. Soon after the Corporation's vote, several final clubs and Greek organizations retained some of the nation’s top lobbyists in Washington, D.C. to convince lawmakers that their cause is worthy of legislative protection.

An amendment to the PROSPER Act — a Republican higher education bill introduced before the United States House of Representatives — proposed prohibiting universities from barring students from joining certain single-gender organizations. The amendment could have forced the University to choose between millions of dollars in federal funding and its social group policy. But with the PROSPER Act all but certain not to become law, several single-gender groups decided to make a last-ditch effort to stave off the sanctions — this time with legal action.

On Dec. 3, the parent organizations of two sororities and two fraternities — along with three anonymous male undergraduates and the Harvard chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon — filed two parallel lawsuits challenging the sanctions in state and federal court. Both legal filings allege the social group sanctions are unconstitutional and violate federal anti-sex discrimination provisions of Title IX as well as Massachusetts civil rights laws. Harvard’s final clubs are not formally involved in the current litigation, but some are helping fund the suits.

Harvard has yet to formally respond to either suit, though it objected to legal protections for student plaintiffs’ anonymity in a Dec. 18 federal filing. The University must respond to the federal and state cases by Feb. 4 and Feb. 8, respectively.

Harvard Takes on Diversity Initiatives
Harvard engaged in increased efforts to promote diversity and belonging on campus throughout 2018, heeding student and faculty voices. Despite these attempts, however, inclusion issues persisted.
5. As Harvard Makes Progress on Some Fronts, Issues Persist
camera iconBy Michael Gritzbach

Though Harvard engaged in increased efforts to promote diversity and belonging on campus throughout 2018, inclusion issues persisted.

On March 27, the 55-member University-wide Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging released its final report, calling on administrators to enhance mental health resources; improve faculty recruitment and retention strategies; encourage dynamic, “responsive” curricula; and build two University-wide centers, one for “identity, politics, and culture” and one for “inclusion and belonging.” Initially convened by former University President Drew G. Faust, the task force now looks to current University President Lawrence S. Bacow to implement its report.

The specific recommendation for the University-wide centers raised students’ hopes that the half-century long fight for a multicultural center would end soon with the creation of a physical space for students of marginalized backgrounds.

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana accepted a proposal in April to research the establishment of a multicultural center on campus. Administrators and student leaders, however, acknowledged that the entire implementation process could span years.

In June, nearly 50 Harvard student and alumni organizations signed a letter addressed to Bacow calling on the next Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to develop a formalized ethnic studies program. The letters penned by those organizations — which collectively call themselves the Harvard Ethnic Studies Coalition — and the Harvard Asian American Alumni Alliance marked the most recent effort in a decades-long campaign to create an ethnic studies field at Harvard.

Newly appointed Dean of FAS Claudine Gay said she plans to meet with ethnic studies advocates in the spring. Though Gay acknowledged that she has the “structural authority” to create an ethnic studies program immediately, she said she would focus her efforts on recruiting faculty who study and teach ethnic studies for the time being.

Gay, who took office on Aug. 15, is the first woman and the first person of color to serve as dean of FAS. She joined the ranks of Michelle A. Williams, Tomiko Brown-Nagin, and Bridget Terry-Long — deans of the School of Public Health, the Radcliffe institute of Advanced Study, and the Graduate School of Education, respectively — to mark the first time in which four University schools were led by African-American women.

The beginning of the fall semester welcomed another historic first. In August, 95 members of the Class of 2022 became the first to participate in the First-Year Retreat and Experience, a two-year pilot pre-orientation program designed for under-resourced students. FYRE, which allowed participants to tour campus and meet University faculty and administrators, was praised by students who said that the program helped them feel less “lost.”

The uncertain future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program under President Donald Trump also prompted collaborative University initiatives. Faculty, staff, administrators, and students established the Harvard Community Organized for Immigration Action as a response to “anti-immigration rhetoric and policy,” and in September, representatives from HCOIA met with Bacow to discuss immigration issues.

Despite efforts of students and administrators to foster a culture of inclusion, the University still faced challenges. On Nov. 15, Leverett House tutors announced in an email that House staff and the Dean of Students Office were investigating “deeply disturbing and offensive images” drawn on a public whiteboard. Racist comments accompanied these images.

Graduate Students Unionize After Years-Long Effort
Harvard teaching and research assistants voted to unionize in April after five years of activism by Harvard Graduate Student Union-United Automobile Workers organizers. Following the vote, the University agreed to negotiate, and the two parties have begun the bargaining process.
6. Grad Students, Harvard Begin Bargaining After Unionization Vote
camera iconBy Caleb D. Schwartz

Harvard teaching and research assistants voted to unionize in April, marking the culmination of a five-year effort by Harvard Graduate Student Union-United Automobile Workers organizers and ending years of uncertainty about the fate of a student union on campus.

The vote — in which 56 percent of voters opted to unionize — came after the National Labor Relations Board invalidated the result of a November 2016 election in a January ruling. Though the majority of voters opposed unionization in the first vote, the NLRB decided that the University had failed to provide a full list of eligible students ahead of that election and ordered a re-vote for April.

Graduate students at Harvard joined several other private universities whose students have voted to unionize in recent months, after an August 2016 NLRB ruling recognized student workers in private universities as employees and opened up the possibility that they could unionize. The ruling, overturning an early-2000s NLRB decision, led to a resurgence of unionization movements in private universities across the country.

Between the NLRB’s January decision and the April unionization vote, union advocates conducted a fierce outreach campaign, arguing that a union would fight for better wages — which had grown less than expected in the previous year — and benefits, and would bolster protections for students who report sexual harassment. Meanwhile, students who opposed the union raised concerns about union dues and the ramifications of a strike.

After the historic vote, the union began collective bargaining with the University — an ongoing process in which both sides negotiate the terms of a contract. While other private universities – including Yale, Columbia, University of Chicago, and Boston College – refused to negotiate with student unions, Harvard agreed to negotiate in May 2018, prompting the election of HGSU-UAW’s 13-member bargaining committee the same month.

Because HGSU-UAW boasts approximately 5,000 members across all 12 of Harvard’s schools, the bargaining process is complicated and unprecedented in scale, even compared to previous negotiations between the University and other labor unions.

The bargaining committee adopted an ambitious 80-item list of bargaining goals demanding better compensation, improved equity and inclusivity, and increased job security and protections. The University vowed to respect the difference between academic issues and labor disputes, refusing to negotiate on “academic matters” like “who is admitted, how teaching occurs, and who teaches.”

When negotiations began in October, bargaining committee members said they faced strong pushback from administrators, especially on union goals for procedures surrounding sexual misconduct allegations. The University also initially struggled to generate a comprehensive list of eligible union members because for much of the semester, changing course staffs and lab assignments led to fluctuations in the size and makeup of the union. After three bargaining sessions, the University suggested convening every other week in five-hour sessions, while the union bargaining committee is seeking more frequent meetings.

Arrest Sparks Allegations of Police Brutality
After Cambridge police officers forcibly arrested a black undergraduate in mid-April, students and administrators spoke out against the officers' actions, and the University put together a task force to examine what went wrong the night of the arrest.
7. Arrest of Black Undergrad Attracts National Media Attention, Causes Public Outcry
camera iconBy Caleb D. Schwartz

Cambridge police officers forcibly arrested a black undergraduate the night of Yardfest, the College’s annual concert, in mid-April. The confrontation sparked allegations of police brutality and made national headlines.

Before Cambridge Police Department officers arrived at the scene, the student stood on Massachusetts Avenue feet from Pound Hall, the Law School building where Harvard University Health Services operated after hours earlier this year. His exact location, though, meant CPD — instead of the Harvard University Police Department — responded to a call from HUHS about his behavior.

Different accounts emerged from CPD officials and campus groups about what happened next.

A video published by CPD showed police surrounding the student, who raised his arms to chest-level before an officer tackled him from behind. Officers then punched the student five times in an attempt to restrain him, according a CPD report.

Hours later, the Black Law Students Association called the incident “a brutal instance of police violence.” In a statement, they argued the account CPD released was “incorrect” and wrote that some of their members saw the student naked, unarmed, and surrounded by police officers.

The CPD officers charged the student on multiple accounts including indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, assault, and resisting arrest. Police later dropped the charges in May after significant public outcry.

At the College, some students responded to the arrest by forming the group Black Students Organizing for Change. The students protested in the Yard, holding signs that read “Not Safe Beyond These Gates” and “Treat Me, Don’t Beat Me.” They also circulated a letter calling administrators’ response to the incident insufficient.

In the months since the student’s arrest, both Harvard and CPD officials have conducted reviews of the night’s events.

In late April, then-University President Drew G. Faust formed a committee and tasked it with undertaking a “systematic examination” of a series of Harvard policies related to the arrest. The committee — chaired by Law School professor Annette Gordon-Reed — released its report in November.

The group recommended that Harvard administrators explore a number of policy changes to respond to the arrest. The committee wrote that heavy drinking and drug use among undergraduates during Yardfest strained HUPD’s resources that night. HUPD Chief of Police Francis “Bud” D. Riley was also quoted in the report saying he would have preferred that Harvard police respond to the call.

CPD conducted an internal review mandated by internal policies surrounding officers’ use of force. The department will also add a new office to monitor use of force and racial bias in officers’ interaction with citizens. Separately, department officials tapped former Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Roderick L. Ireland to lead an independent inquiry, but have yet to disclose when investigators will complete it.

Capital Campaign Rakes In $9.6 Billion
Harvard’s finances saw both ups and downs in 2018 — its five-year capital campaign smashed its own higher education fundraising record, but the University also had to prepare to face an “unprecedented” tax on its endowment starting this fiscal year.
8. As Record-Setting Capital Campaign Concludes, Univ. Prepares for Endowment Tax
camera iconBy Zorigoo Tugsbayar

Harvard’s finances saw both ups and downs in 2018 — its five-year capital campaign smashed its own higher education fundraising record, but the University also had to prepare to face an “unprecedented” tax on its endowment starting this fiscal year.

Harvard topped out its fundraising drive of the decade, raking in a record-setting $9.6 billion, the University announced in September. The campaign launched in 2013 and passed its original $6.5 billion goal in April 2016. The previous higher education fundraising goal was set in 2011 when Stanford closed out a campaign raising $6.2 billion.

Financial aid, current use giving, and House renewal were among the University’s top fundraising priorities, but both financial aid and House renewal donations lagged into Spring 2018. Harvard entered the year short of its $600 million financial aid goal for the College and still hadn’t met its $400 million fundraising target for undergraduate House renewal as of April.

Harvard eventually surpassed its financial aid goal, raising $1.3 billion for aid across the University.

Several schools also exceeded their own campaign goals: the Faculty of Arts and Sciences led the pack, raising more than $3 billion, while the the Business School raised $1.4 billion, and the School of Public Health brought in $933 million.

The capital campaign, one of the hallmarks of former University President Drew G. Faust’s tenure, concluded as Harvard prepared for a new 1.4 percent tax on its endowment returns, which Faust called an “unprecedented” move by federal legislators when they passed the law in December 2017.

The tax, which was part of the 2017 Republican tax overhaul and will take effect for fiscal year 2019, would have cost Harvard more than $50 million had it been levied this year, according to the University’s 2018 financial returns. This figure is equivalent to $2,000 per student, about a quarter of the University’s financial aid budget, according to University President Lawrence S. Bacow.

Bacow said an an October interview that he was not yet sure which parts of the budget will take a hit to cover the new tax, but he said financial aid would be the last place he looked. As of September, the University had still not received federal guidance on how to file the tax, which will be due next summer.

Harvard hasn’t yet given up hope that the law could change, though. Faust spent time lobbying in Congress through the end of her tenure, and Bacow took up the mantle shortly after assuming office this past summer. In April, Faust joined other higher education institutions in penning a letter opposing the tax and met with two members of Congress who had proposed a bill to repeal the tax.

Since becoming president, Bacow has also met with legislators including Senate Minority Leader Chuck E. Schumer ’71 (D-NY), U.S. Senator Mike D. Crapo (R-ID), and U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA). But Harvard may not be able to count on a repeal effort even with Democrats soon to hold the majority in the House of Representatives — it is unclear whether the endowment tax will make it onto the list of provisions they try to overturn once they control the House Ways and Means Committee.

HCFA Placed on "Administrative Probation"
Harvard placed the College’s largest campus Christian group on a year-long, unprecedented “administrative probation” in February, after The Crimson reported that the group asked a woman to step down from a leadership position upon hearing that she was dating another female student.
9. HCFA Placed on Probation, Stirring Up Controversy
camera iconBy Sung Kwang Oh

Harvard placed the College’s largest campus Christian group on a year-long, unprecedented “administrative probation” in February, after The Crimson reported that the group asked a woman to step down from a leadership position upon hearing that she was dating another female student.

Since then, Harvard College Faith and Action's punishment has stirred up controversy on campus — and confusion about what exactly the “administrative probation” entails.

College spokesperson Aaron M. Goldman announced the consequences in an email to The Crimson, less than 24 hours after reporters asked him for comment about the group’s decision to ask the female member to step down from her position as an assistant bible course leader.

In an emailed statement in February, then-HCFA presidents Scott Ely ’18 and Molly L. Richmond ’18 wrote the College put the group on probation because of its “relationship” with Christian Union — the parent group that funds and helps support HCFA.

Ely and Richmond defended their decision to ask the woman to step down, citing an “irreconcilable theological disagreement” and a failure to comply with the organization’s character standards as the reasons for her removal.

After the punishment was annouced, the terms of “administrative probation” drew confusion from Undergraduate Council representatives and HCFA members alike. Administrators declined to clarify the terms of HCFA’s probation.

The Crimson reported that probation would have little immediate effect on the organization, and it still enjoyed privileges accorded to student groups, such as reserving spaces, recruiting students, and receiving funding from the UC once the consequences began. HCFA also operated a booth at last year’s Visitas Activities Fair for admitted students during its probation.

The UC swiftly denounced HCFA’s conduct and affirmed its commitment to the Harvard BGLTQ community in a resolution passed one week after The Crimson first reported the story. In March, the Council moved to withhold funding from the organization, once it became apparent that probation did not preclude the organization from receiving UC funds.

In order to re-earn recognition, the College stipulated that HCFA must sever ties with its parent organization, Christian Union — which provided HCFA $683,247 in the 2017 fiscal year — in order to demonstrate “local autonomy” in compliance with Harvard’s local governance policies as outlined in the Harvard Student Handbook.

In the months after administrators announced the probation, some students said they were frustrated that the College did not enforce more stringent penalties against HCFA. In a private meeting with students, Associate Dean of Students for Diversity and Inclusion Roland S. Davis said the punishment was lenient because Harvard did not want to be seen as waging war on Christianity. He later walked back on his remarks.

HCFA’s probation ends in February 2019, and administrators will decide then whether to reinstate the group.

Harvard Faces Title IX Uncertainty
Harvard worked to address and prevent sexual misconduct on campus in a year filled with uncertainty about how Title IX — a federal anti-discrimination law — would be enforced under Trump administration Secretary of Education Betsy D. DeVos.
10. Harvard's Title IX Rules Face Uncertain Future After DeVos Proposal
camera iconBy Timothy R. O'Meara

Harvard worked to address and prevent sexual misconduct on campus in a year filled with uncertainty about how Title IX — a federal anti-discrimination law — would be enforced under Trump administration Secretary of Education Betsy D. DeVos.

In November, DeVos released proposed Title IX rules that, if adopted after a public comment period, will merit changes to the Harvard’s sexual and gender based harassment policies and procedures updated in 2014. The new rules change the standard of evidence colleges can choose to apply in sexual misconduct investigations, mandate that complainants and respondents be able to cross-examine each other in a live hearing, and redefine sexual harassment as behavior that is so “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” that it denies someone equal access to their educational program.

In a December interview, University President Lawrence S. Bacow questioned elements of DeVos’s proposal. Bacow said the changes allowing cross-examination would be “inappropriate” on a college campus, adding that “it’s important to be able to encourage people to come forward, to do so without fear.”

The rule proposal also faced backlash from campus student groups. Anti-sexual assault advocacy organization Our Harvard Can Do Better circulated an open letter criticizing the new guidelines, which garnered more than 375 signatures. Students delivered the letter to the regional Department of Education Office of Civil Rights in Boston on Dec. 6.

As federal rules sat in limbo, Harvard also remained the subject of three federal probes into its compliance with Title IX, one opened as early as 2014.

But changes were also afoot internally. Following recommendations from a 2016 Title IX task force report, mandatory Title IX trainings were introduced for Harvard students, faculty, and staff. One hundred percent of degree seeking undergraduates completed the training this year after it was made mandatory for course enrollment — up from 71 percent last year.

A separate Title IX policy review committee — established by former University President Drew G. Faust in 2015 and spearheaded by Professor Donald H. Pfister — also released a report in December with recommendations for expanding access to Title IX resources on campus and reforming reporting processes.

On the administrative side, Pierre R. Berastaín Ojeda ’10 was appointed director of the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response in April after former director Alicia Oeser left the office more than a year prior. The University’s Title IX Office also expanded its outreach initiatives, creating a student liaison committee with members from all of Harvard’s schools to work on new prevention and education initiatives.

Amid institutional reforms and a cascade of sexual misconduct allegations across the country, the University’s Title IX Office saw a 56 percent increase in disclosures of sexual harassment in 2018, per its annual report. The office attributed this increase to expanded education initiatives on sexual harassment and ripple effects from the #MeToo movement that prompted women around the world to come forward with stories about harassment they’ve faced.