Harvard spied on faculty: A recent report said that Harvard administrators essentially spied on faculty members by searching their e-mail accounts.
Harvard University administrators secretly accessed the e-mail accounts of more than a dozen resident deans last year as they were looking for the source of a leak to the media about a massive cheating scandal.
The Boston Globe reported that the central administrators searched through e-mail accounts belonging to 16 resident deans who were involved in investigating widespread academic cheating and plagiarism last fall. In all, 125 students were accused of taking part.
Harvard officials interviewed by the newspaper said the deans were not told that central administrators were going to look into their accounts.
Only one of the deans was told of the covert search after the fact. The university plans on telling the other 15 deans that administrators searched their e-mail accounts.
“If reading the deans’ email is really OK by the book, why didn’t they just ask the deans who leaked the memo, threatening to read their email if no one came forward?” Harry Lewis, a former dean of the college who helped come up with the current e-mail policy for staff members at Harvard, told the Globe.
“Why not tell them what was being done if it was really an OK thing to do?” he asked.
The office of Michael Smith, the dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard, helped authorize the search of the dean’s e-mails, releasing a statement to the paper.
“Harvard College would take all necessary and appropriate actions under our procedures to safeguard the integrity of that process, which is designed to protect the rights of our students to privacy and due process,” it read.
According to student newspaper The Crimson, Harvard administrators can access faculty e-mail accounts during “extraordinary circumstances such as legal proceedings and internal Harvard investigations.” Smith, the dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences, has to approve the review.
However, resident deans, who were investigated, are not exactly faculty at the school.
Smith added that he would take steps to create a “balance between our needs to respect the privacy of our employees and to protect the privacy of our students.”
In the cheating incident, the students allegedly plagiarized and collaborated in a government class final take-home exam. Some students told the Crimson that the final exam was confusing and there course was structured poorly.
“Almost all of [the students at office hours] had been awake the entire night, and none of us could figure out what an entire question (worth 20% of the grade) was asking,” one student said last April. “On top of this, one of the questions asked us about a term that had never been defined in any of our readings and had not been properly defined in class, so the TF had to give us a definition to use for the question.”
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 21 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.