Harvard wins!


Here’s something they’re really good at: they’re champions at ignoring victims of sexual assault. You can guess from my description that that article might be a bit triggering: a woman describes her assault by a fellow dorm resident, and then her nine month struggle to get Harvard’s administration to even admit to the problem (they actively discouraged her from getting redress), and how they allowed her assailant to continue to live in the same dorm.

Comments

  1. =8)-DX says

    (they actively discouraged her from getting redress)

    But wait! Surely they were incouraging her when they said:
    We want you to get all the support that you need.
    *vomit*

  2. Artor says

    What the fucking fuck?!? Isn’t it a crime to conceal a crime? When will universities start taking the hit for trying to sweep this shit under the rug? I hope some new federal prosecutor decides to make a name for herself and start going after these fucktards.

  3. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    One of the most depressing reads ever :(

  4. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    they actively discouraged her from getting redress

    The only way this shit will ever change is when the institutions start getting hit where it matters — in the endowment. Does anyone seriously think that the Catholic Church would have taken even the tiniest step towards dealing with rapist priests were it not for successful lawsuits (yeah, that have done the absolute minimum, or less, but, for the Church, that is progress)? Does anyone think that the rules for Boy and Cub Scouts — two deep, single tents (except for parents), two deep cannot be husband and wife — would have been developed if the survivors (the brave ones) hadn’t sued the bastards that knew about the problem but ignored it? Does anyone think that Harvard will do anything about the way they handle sexual abuse, sexual assault, sex discrimination, or rape, until a lawsuit hits them in the wallet?

    On the other hand, most of us (well, many of us (definitely one)) will never bring a case to court, will never try to make the bastards pay, will depend on those who are stronger, who are willing to bear the abuse thrown at those who stand up and demand justice. My heart goes out to this woman. I admire her bravery but also understand her desire for anonymity. I sort of understand.

  5. Samuel Erkison says

    Good News! Harvard has responded!
    …By forming a task force.
    http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2014/4/3/faust-sexual-misconduct-task-force/?page=single

    On the heels of a surge in campus-wide and national attention on Harvard’s current sexual assault policies, University President Drew G. Faust announced the creation of a task force focused on sexual assault and misconduct in an email to the Harvard community Thursday afternoon.

    The email comes just three days after the publication of a first-person, anonymous op-ed in The Crimson, which detailed the author’s experience with sexual assault at Harvard and what she felt to be the University’s inadequate response. However, Faust wrote in the email that this announcement was the result of “consultation with deans and others over recent weeks.”

    “[The task force] will develop recommendations about how Harvard can improve efforts to prevent sexual misconduct and develop insight into these issues based on input from both within and beyond our community,” Faust wrote.

    The task force will be chaired by former University Provost Steven E. Hyman, a professor of stem cell and regenerative biology who, during his tenure as provost, helped oversee the creation of the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.

  6. Steve LaBonne says

    Ogvorbis@4: Obstruction of justice charges for administrators who cover up crimes wouldn’t hurt, either.

  7. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    So the same man who created the office that has manifestly failed to prevent sexual misconduct, and botched the response when it happened, is going to head up a task force designed to correct what he did wrong? Oh, no way could that possibly go wrong.

  8. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    @Samual Erikson

    The task force will be chaired by former University Provost Steven E. Hyman

    … really?

  9. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    Steve LaBonne:

    Obstruction of justice charges for administrators who cover up crimes wouldn’t hurt, either.

    That would punish individuals, it would not punish the institution that created the environment in which these people to work their obstruction. Charging the administrators would be good but that would not, in my opinion, create systemic change. Just look at Samuel Erikson’s #5: the man who helped create the system that has failed is supposed to reform the system he helped create. Systemic failure will continue until the system has a reason (almost always financial) to change.

  10. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    The task force will be chaired by former University Provost Steven E. Hyman, a professor of stem cell and regenerative biology who, during his tenure as provost, helped oversee the creation of the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.

    Yeah, let’s take a dude with no relevant qualifications who has already failed in overseeing the office and make him fix it! Is Harvard that stupid (don’t doubt it) or are they knowingly using this dude because they want to placate people but don’t want to change?

    I’m going to go with both here…

  11. carlie says

    There is a college near me (not mine), that has signs up in all of the bathrooms detailing what to do in case of sexual assault. I was really impressed with both the scope of the information push and in what it said: it said to to go a medical facility for evidence collection, tell the appropriate school authorities (I forget which office it was), and go to the town police. None of this hiding behind the school being trusted to take care of everything. It’s a crime, you treat it like a crime and go to police who have no conflict of interest with their employers.

    I don’t know if this is in response to previous bad actions by the college, but they’re on the right track now at least.

  12. Samuel Erkison says

    @JAL
    “Is Harvard that stupid (don’t doubt it) or are they knowingly using this dude because they want to placate people but don’t want to change?

    I’m going to go with both here…”

    Given my experience* with other Harvard task forces, it’s definitely both.

    *I’ve been a low level wage monkey at Harvard for ~7 years.

  13. borax says

    That line from the dean about forgiving the attacker and moving on made me sick. Hell, the whole thing made sick. I cannot understand how anyone could tell a rape victim to just get over it.

  14. borax says

    @11 carlie. Unfortunately the local police may not be any better than the university. Or even the hospital. I’ve known cops who bragged about what us decent humans would call rape, and I’ve worked in an ER where sexual assault victims were not believed unless they were beat to hell and sober when the attack happened.

  15. =8)-DX says

    “[The task force] will develop recommendations about how Harvard can improve efforts to prevent sexual misconduct and develop insight into these issues based on input from both within and beyond our community,” Faust wrote.

    Except that the problem was not just “preventing sexual misconduct”, but “responding when sexual misconduct happens”. Prevention may be a secondary result, but it is crucial to support and protect victims because a lot of the harm that is done (as was strongly emphasized in the OP link) is what happens *afterwards*.

    Still missing the point, still evading the actual issue. “Insight” in this case seems to be a strong need to be wacked over the head with both a “sex and consent 101″ and a “responding to victims of sexual assault” pamphlet.

  16. qwints says

    There has to be a way to get administrators to stop seeing victims as a problem they can make go away.

    @Artor,
    Unfortunately, Massachusetts has a pretty outdated sexual assault statute which requires the use or threat of force. In addition, it has a disturbingly high standard for when intoxication proves lack of consent..

  17. qwints says

    In addition, this brings to mind this brilliant scene . Some people think that as long as the guy didn’t explicitly threaten her, she consented.

  18. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    =8)-DX:

    Prevention may be a secondary result, but it is crucial to support and protect victims because a lot of the harm that is done (as was strongly emphasized in the OP link) is what happens *afterwards*.

    Not just the harm. An effective method of dealing with reports of rape, assault and abuse should reduce the frequency of the crimes through, at the very least, removing the perpetrator from the environment (expulsion or prison). If a rapist knows that, even if the survivor reports the crime, it will be ignored, or minimized, or shuffled to the bottom of the pile, would that embolden the rapist? or potential rapist?

  19. Sally Stearns says

    The real problem is so many of these universities are of such a size that they have their own police department and those police departments tend to be some of the worst in the country at investigating these kinds of things. But if a girl decides to instead go to, say, the Boston police, that department will say “sorry, not our jurisdiction.”

  20. theoreticalgrrrl says

    @borax
    I wouldn’t discourage women from going to the police. I used to accompany sexual assault victims during their hospital visits and when being interviewed by police officers. Having an advocate present seems to make a difference, because in the year I worked there, I never had a case where the cops said anything remotely victim-blaming, let alone the hospital staff.

  21. Corvus Whiteneck says

    Provost Hyman will have a 17 member task force. Two of the 17 will be students. TWO.

    Students outnumber academic+admin staff by >3:1 at Harvard, & I recognize that students need not be represented proportionally to their population on such a task force. But methinks you aren’t actually interested in the students’ concerns/experiences regarding sexual assault when you give them just token representation on such a panel. Who is getting sexually assaulted most often at Harvard? Middle-aged admins? Nope.

    Does anyone know which universities have a reputation for actually handling sexual assaults properly?

  22. says

    theoreticalgrrrl:

    Having an advocate present seems to make a difference, because in the year I worked there, I never had a case where the cops said anything remotely victim-blaming, let alone the hospital staff.

    That’s nice. In the seven years I was an advocate, I heard damn near non-stop victim blaming shit from cops, attorneys, hospital staff, just about everyone.

    Things have changed in some places, and that’s a good thing, but don’t think that applies everywhere.

  23. madscientist says

    Unfortunately it’s not at all surprising coming from Harvard. After all, the Old White Dude’s Club even goes to great lengths to protect the academic frauds in their ranks (and there have been a few in the past 30 years).

    It’s good to see students saying it’s just not good enough and that they deserve better; hopefully things change. There’s just one thing that puzzles me though – is Hah’vud so powerful that they are a law unto themselves – don’t they have to follow Federal and State laws? Since when does the board get to decide what constitutes sexual harassment or rape on campus? I hope there are decent men on campus supporting change.

    I just don’t understand Harvard’s antediluvian position on this. Wouldn’t it be better for a university’s reputation if it showed it upheld the laws and showed basic decency in denouncing the creeps in its corridors?

  24. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend, Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    When I was doing campus work, Oberlin seemed to be among the best. But student involvement and leadership is dependent on the students – and they leave. So they may not be among the best anymore.

    Lewis & Clark College in Oregon had some real problems in the mid-2000s, but I think that they responded in the right way, at least initially. How far down that productive road they went and whether or not there’s been any backtracking, I’m not sure.

    In Canada, there are several schools that do a fairly good job. I’d say Queens is better than average, though I’m not completely sure about them – my experience with them is indirect.

  25. theoreticalgrrrl says

    @Inaji,
    I know it’s still very bad, and of course it doesn’t apply everywhere. The sexual assault trauma center I worked with was connected to the psychology dept. at our local University, who also worked with a specific hospital in treating sexual assault victims and helping them through the process of reporting. They had an excellent training program for dealing with sexual abuse/assault and survivors’ issues. There was great communication between the hospital, trauma center and psychology department, and it seemed to make a significant difference. It gives me hope that things can change when people really work together and make it a priority to tackle this issue.

  26. nrdo says

    @ theoreticalgrrrl
    It’s good to hear that you’ve encountered positive work in your institution. I’ve always found it frustrating that psychology and other healthcare organizations don’t seem to be able to do more to target sex assault issues like this. They do publish opinions and papers, but they often seem too timid to really rock the boat.

  27. Erp says

    Who is getting sexually assaulted most often at Harvard? Middle-aged admins? Nope.

    Two students seems low (if nothing else I would expect a couple of undergraduates and a couple of graduate students and what is the ratio of men and women in the task force) and students are likely the most often sexually assaulted just by numbers and time spent on campus; however, I wonder how many of the low level staff are sexually assaulted or are sexually harassed (also untenured academic staff and faculty).

  28. nrdo says

    @ Erp
    Given the Harvard huge holdings and endowments, it’s probably reasonable to guesstimate that the number of assaults is similar to any other multi-million dollar business.

  29. Usernames are smart says

    Steve LaBonne:

    Obstruction of justice charges for administrators who cover up crimes wouldn’t hurt, either.

    That would punish individuals, it would not punish the institution that created the environment in which these people to work their obstruction.
    — Ogvorbis (#9)

    Depends. If states were to implement a “SOX for Educational Institutions” that made the Regents and College Heads culpably responsible for obstruction and also elevated sexual assault a State Jail Felony (with a 20-year statute of limitations), you can bet your sweet beet that administrators will take it seriously.

    But..but…but female-on-male sexual assaults are not taken seriously, rape statistics are overinflated, and women file false rape reports ALOT!
    — Every MRA, ever

    Sure, sure. And if those become actual, reality-based problems backed by actual evidence, then maybe, I dunno, charge the false-accusers with a crime, perhaps. Oh and the fact that punishments for obstruction by the administration will be in effect when ANYONE in the cis-gender matrix reports sexual assault means MRA arguments are invalid.