Harvard Law School finally threw in the towel Tuesday after a four-year fight with the Obama administration over Title IX. The school admitted to violations of Title IX and agreed to revise its policies on sexual assault and harassment in ways that will provide fewer rights to accused students.
The school had been under investigation for four years by the Department of Education, which was seeking to determine whether the school was violating Title IX by providing an unsafe campus environment for female students. By reaching an agreement with the federal government acknowledging past failures and promising certain reforms, Harvard Law was finally able to have the investigation dropped, and remove the specter of a possible loss of federal funding.
A separate investigation of Harvard College, the university’s undergraduate school, remains ongoing, one of over 90 being pursued by the Obama administration.
In order to get the administration to back off, Harvard Law had to admit that it was previously in violation of Title IX, based on failings such as taking more than one year to adjudicate an assault allegation and not doing enough to publicize and clarify the options available to alleged victims.
The school also had to adopt several new policies that weaken the position of students accused of sexual harassment and assault. Most notably, the school’s burden of proof standard was switched from “clear and convincing evidence” to the weaker “preponderance of evidence” standard, where an accused is expected to be found guilty if investigators believe there is a greater than 50% chance they committed a certain wrong.
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