Harvard student says she was attacked but she's the one being forced to move

A Harvard student recounts events after what she writes was a sexual assault by another student in her Harvard residence.

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    Police Matters, Not Disciplinary Matters

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    Universities (and for that matter, all schools: elementary, middle, high) should not be allowed to adjudicate accusations of felonies through their internal disciplinary systems. They should be legally required to turn all accusations of felonies over to the local police department. It should be part of the terms of their funding: if you want to play Law and Order instead of calling in the police, you lose your funding. Period.

    It's completely ridiculous that schools think that their kangaroo student disciplinary courts are appropriate places to be holding felony trials.

    It's fine to hold a separate disciplinary hearing related to the court case and its outcome to determine if the student should have restrictions or be removed from campus entirely. But the school should not be acting as the judge, jury, and prosecution. That's absurd and a violation of the student's trust- especially since many young people have limited experience in knowing what their legal rights are.

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    Eh, I don't blame 'em

    I wouldn't trust a real Massachusetts court to determine who stole a pie from a windowsill. Remember, these are the people who didn't put Jared Remy in jail for bottling a guy. If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself sometimes.

    As for the victim, name the attacker. Maybe the guy will suffer an accident. Harvard's a small community, no? Wrap the guy up in a blanket and beat the crap out of him.

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    Uhhh

    By on

    Maybe best left to professionals then?

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    Oh, really?

    By on

    learned a lot about disposing of bodies in Vermont? Hotbed of organized crime that it is?

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    The whole point of the story

    By on

    The whole point of the story (if you had bothered to read it) was that Harvard didnt do the right thing, so the University skips the MA courts (as you suggest) and dont do 'something right', they mess it up.

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    Unfortunately...

    ...there is a legal basis for all this. If I remember correctly, the lawsuit Alexander vs. Yale is one of those which established that a private institution like Harvard or Yale only had to have a clear disciplinary process in place. It is under no obligation to involve local police, even though some universitys' own police forces are affiliated with the local police. Not only that, but neither victims nor accused are afforded the protections of the Constitution. So, for example, the rules of evidence which hold sway in a court of law carry no weight in a university proceeding. A victim is perfectly free to pursue a court case in lieu of or in addition to the disciplinary process. If the latter course is taken, however, it can sometimes yield a split decision, muddying the waters, where one process finds the defendant guilty & the other innocent.

    I was in New Haven when the case was brought & knew Ms. Alexander when she was an undergraduate. I am not a lawyer. So my memory-based account here may be flawed. Perhaps someone with more legal expertise could weigh in & correct & clarify...

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    I must be missing something. Please let me be missing something.

    By on

    I say this because I started reading that article closely, and then had to skim (in part because I was interrupted by work and in part because this sounds so horrible that I was not sure that I wanted to continue) but...

    why did I not see the word "police" anywhere in this story?

    How in the world can something like this be entrusted to a institutional review system grounded in a 21 year old policy rather than the state criminal justice system? Harvard has its own police department that is fully authorized to enforce state law in its little domain. In the unlikely event that it did nothing, the Cambridge police department surely would have gotten involved. As much as it would like to think so, Harvard is not some enclave where state law does not apply.

    I appreciate that in a place like Harvard, making things into a criminal matter might be frowned upon. F-that. The assailant made it a criminal matter when the assailant committed a crime under the laws of this Commonwealth.

    I feel so bad for the victim. While it won't make the flashbacks and anxiety go away, I hope that the victim can conjure the strength to push on because if the facts are anything like what is written in this article, Harvard is going to need every great lawyer it has just to prevent this from getting into court on the civil side (which it will do because it will never, ever, want testimony like this article on the public record).

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    THANK YOU

    By on

    Thanks,

    I was going to type something along the lines about that but I didn't want to get totally shot down.

    I, too, am wondering why Cambridge PD or even the HUPD were not involved either. This happens far too often than people are aware of it. Univ's just shove it under the carpet with these closed-door hearings (non-legal), in fear of bad Public Relations or some such silliness to protect the school (and possibly, its stream of donors).

    I cannot help but wonder why after all this time.. because campus rapes have been swept under the carpet for so long now, why some politician has not forced the issue. Meaning a law that would force campus police to hand over these cases to local law enforcement instead automatically. Sure the school can do its hearing, but the case should automatically be sent to HUPD or, better yet, Cambridge Police. Let the legal system do its job, it's not for some academic 'trial' court's job.

    I hope the girl sues Harvard for doing pretty much nothing and pushing her to the side like it did not matter, or it did not happen.

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    I don't know what actually

    By on

    I don't know what actually happened with regard to police prosecution in this case. But it sounds like the victim didn't approach the police to press charges (and I can certainly understand why), not that Harvard wouldn't allow the police to get involved.

    The victim here

    By on

    didn't approach the police to press charges. But she's suddenly more than willing to file a let's bleed Harvard dry because I'm now broke civil lawsuit.

    Yet another example of what's so wrong with our "justice" system.

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    Assuming facts not in evidence

    By on

    You use the words 'victim', 'assailant' and 'criminal' - but that piece is only a very non-specific, anonymous account from a single party.

    I'm not saying that I believe it's a false acount or that this young person was not sexually assaulted and then shrugged off by the school - unfortunately, it's all too easy to believe this sort of miscarriage could take place (fwiw, I'm personally familiar with the prediliction for universities to act as laws unto themselves).

    But, it's also quite possible that the objective facts are quite different than the impression one is left with from that piece. Have there been any well-done journalistic investigations that have examined the current policies at Harvard and other local schools, and subjected them to strong analysis?

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    But we trust the university to police things

    By on

    Just like we trust the Church to police itself. That worked out great.

    Of course, we shouldn't be attacking the victim in this. She was scared, mad, violated. She went to people in authority and they, well, they made matters worse. We should attack the school on this. No one suggested to the victim that she might think of contacting the police on this matter? That is a crime within a crime.

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    What am I missing?

    By on

    She went to the school with her story. The school could not find enough evidence in what she told them to make this into a convincing case of rape or sexual assault and frankly, having read her account, neither can I. I'm not saying that it wasn't horrible or wrong but from a legal standpoint, even on the most basic level, it's unsupportable. "It didn't sound like a question. I obeyed." I'm sorry but as a woman, as a mother, this makes me want to scream. Yes, it was a question. There was no reason to obey--no threats, no physical violence or intimidation. This kind of self-disempowerment by young women--I was drunk, I trusted him, he was a friend, I turned my back...this kind of vague, faux-helpless ambivalence does nothing to protect or strengthen them and blurs the lines between a crime and a bad night to a dangerous extent. And you can't then go to Harvard and say "this guy is a rapist/sexual assailant so I really don't want him sharing a laundry room with me." Either he is a criminal and this is a police matter or it isn't, and even from the one-sided story presented by the victim, there is not enough evidence for that. This is obviously a young woman in need of serious help but blaming the university for--I'm still not sure what--is absurd. Bring on the victim-blaming torches...and then tell me what what we can do to empower young people to avoid situations like this.

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    agree

    By on

    I didn't want to be the first to ask that question, but.....she willingly went back to his room (as is her right), she didn't seem to have a problem taking her shirt off (which doesn't mean he can do whatever he'd like), complained that he was kissing her too aggressively (which drunk people tend to do, both male and female), said she didn't want to give him a blow job and turned her back. He then asked if she was just going to make him hard or if she was going to make him come. At that point, it sounds like she made him come. Obviously nobody knows what happened in that room except the two of them, but there definitely seems like a chance it could have been a misunderstanding.

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    If you can't talk to the police, then STFU

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    I told my dean about my depression, and how I thought it had been caused by the lack of validation and empathy I had received from the Harvard faculty. . . . . Seeing how your school officials refuse to validate how upset you are over and over again is equally damaging.

    Vaalllidaaate me! This sad girl is an example of what hurts real rape victims. Mentally ill, living in her own little world of complete subjectivity, but vicious in her own way.

    An adult should know you have no right to have your accusations "validated" without a test of whether they are valid.

    She's both seeking attention from the victim's counselors and advocates who will be embracing her, and demanding anonymity from any scrutiny.

    He was a friend of mine and I trusted him. It was a freezing Friday night when I stumbled into his dorm room after too many drinks. He took my shirt off and started biting the skin on my neck and breast. I pushed back on his chest and asked him to stop kissing me aggressively. He laughed. He said that I should “just wear a scarf” to cover the marks. He continued to abuse my body, hurting my breast and vagina. He asked me to use my mouth. I said no. I was intoxicated, I was in pain, I was trapped between him and the wall, and I was scared to death that he would continue to ignore what I said. I stopped everything and turned my back to him, praying he would leave me alone. He started getting impatient. “Are you only going to make me hard, or are you going to make me come?” he said in a demanding tone.

    It did not sound like a question. I obeyed.

    Oh, that "demanding tone" She just had to obey. Raaaape!

    Now she wants to cash in with a civil suit, but didn't want to bring a criminal case that would have surely resulted in a not guilty. Because that would have ended the drama of her complete trolling subjectivity and ended the civil suit, too.

    This system is a product of a broader rape culture that permeates our society

    Of course she had to throw that in.

    I'm sure she was given the opportunity to talk to a sexual assault unit detective. It's a Title IX requirement. HUPD has a unit and a protocol to deal with it. http://www.hupd.harvard.edu/sexual_assault.php

    If she went to the university clinic as she said, it would have been reported to police, too:

    Under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 112, Section 12A1/2, the University Health Services is required to forward a confidential report of rape or indecent assault and battery to the Police Chief or Commissioner in the jurisdiction in which the alleged assault occurred.

    It's a close call, because her own account indicates consent, but maybe the HUPD, Cambridge Police, or Middlesex DA would have given her a shot at the grand jury, maybe even arrested the guy on some theory she was too intoxicated to consent. But then he'd have a chance to talk too, there might be other witnesses, or video of how much she drank, and she would be questioned on the stand. Oh, the horror!

    Obviously a wrong admissions decision. Just another of the hothouse flowers being raised by helicopter parents. Makes ya sick.

    Or it's an April Fool's parody.

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