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Campus Context

  • Harvard and Harvard Law School were two of the initial 55 institutions under investigation in this wave of federal enforcement as announced by the Education Department in May 2014.
  • Colby Bruno, senior legal counsel at the Victim Rights Law Center, and Wendy Murphy, a victim advocate and adjunct law professor at New England Law, both filed a federal complaint against Harvard Law. That complaint was on behalf of an alumna and alleged victim of sexual assault who later spoke out in the film "The Hunting Ground" about what she saw as an inadequate response by the institution. Nineteen professors have defended the accused student and denounced a "misleading portrayal" in the "purported documentary."
  • Sexual assault gained attention on the broader campus in 2012 when students formed the group Our Harvard Can Do Better, dedicated to “dismantling rape culture at Harvard” in part by advocating for policy changes there. The group introduced a referendum in November 2012 in a Harvard Undergraduate Council election, and 85 percent of voters said the college should re-examine its response to sexual assault.
  • Students filed a federal complaint against Harvard in the spring of 2014, alleging that staff members blamed victims, denied them protections, and gave them conflicting information about their options.
  • An alleged victim of sexual assault anonymously shared her experience, including what she saw as an inadequate response by the institution.
  • A recent graduate and alleged victim of dating violence sued Harvard in federal court in February 2016, arguing that the institution met her reports of abuse, sexual assault, and retaliatory harassment with "deliberate indifference," including by not removing the alleged perpetrator from the dormitory the two shared until she obtained a restraining order, according to The Huffington Post. Harvard said in a statement that its Title IX coordinators "are responsible for identifying reasonable and appropriate interim measures designed to support and protect the initiating party or the university community."
  • Undergraduate and graduate students have continued to organize and have protested Harvard's handling of sexual assault.
  • The institution has affirmed its commitment to victims of sexual assault; created the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, the Office for Sexual and Gender-Based Dispute Resolution, and a presidential task force; collected resources online; and adopted a new universitywide policy. More than two dozen professors publicly objected to the policy as lacking "the most basic elements of fairness and due process."
  • More than 25 percent of undergraduate women said they had experienced nonconsensual penetration or sexual touching due to physical force or incapacitation since enrolling at Harvard, according to a climate survey administered by the Association of American Universities. About 29 percent of undergraduate women believed it was very or extremely likely that Harvard would conduct a fair investigation.


Case 4
Opened:April 17, 2017

Docket: 01-16-2149

Case 3
Opened:March 3, 2016

Docket: 01-15-2178

  • Details will be added as Freedom of Information Act requests are filled.
Case 2
Opened:April 24, 2014

Docket: 01-14-2158

  • Details will be added as Freedom of Information Act requests are filled.
Case 1
Opened:Dec. 21, 2010 - Dec. 30, 2014

Docket: 01-11-2002

  • The investigation has been resolved, with the Office for Civil Rights finding that the institution had violated Title IX by not promptly and equitably responding to students' reports of sexual harassment and assault.
  • Under the settlement, the school agreed, among other things, to review past reports, track all new reports for OCR’s review, better share information with the campus police department, and conduct annual climate surveys.