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Harvard's new sexual harassment policy under fire

BS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss the policy
Professors protest Harvard's new sexual assault policy 04:32

Harvard overhauled its sexual misconduct policy this summer, changing the way it handles reports of assaults and harassment.

For the first time, the university defined the term "sexual harassment," and created a central office to investigate allegations.

Harvard alums refuse to donate until school addresses sexual assaults 03:27

But in the opinion pages of Boston Globe, 28 current and former Harvard Law School faculty members called on the school to change the policy.

They say the new procedures "lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process."

"We think this is enormously one-sided in the nature of the procedures," Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Bartholet said.

Bartholet co-signed the op-ed and believes Harvard's new policy lacks safeguards for students who face accusations -- such as the ability to review evidence, the opportunity to face accusers in a hearing and access to proper legal representation.

"It's very important to make sure that we're not improperly disciplining students and, in the law school, make sure that we're not destroying somebody's future career based on facts that are simply wrong," she said.

In the new policy, the burden of proof is lower than the university's previous standard. Harvard's new regulations abide by preponderance of the evidence rather than proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

"Before the Department of Education issues its letter, the standard of proof was clear and convincing evidence," Ricky Klieman said on "CBS This Morning."

Harvard enacted the changes in July, two months after the U.S. Department of Education said the school was among dozens under investigation for mishandling harassment complaints under Title IX -- the federal law that prohibits gender discrimination at educational institutions that receive federal funds.

But public policy students like Rory Gerberg said victims deserve strong protections and would welcome an even tougher sexual misconduct policy.

"Students should be able to continue their education without being scared of who they're going to see in the library," Gerberg said.

In a statement, Harvard defended the policy, saying "The university is confident that the policy and procedures meet their promise of a thoughtful, fair and consistent approach to these profoundly complex and sensitive situations."

"What we really want here is something that is fair and balanced." Klieman said. "We want a neutral person who's going to decide this."

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