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Harvard Students Rally Against Sex Offenders

By Susan Buchman

Last Tuesday, Harvard students convened to protest the administration’s failure to expel two Harvard students convicted of sex crimes against fellow students.

The “Rally for Justice”, sponsored by the Coalition Against Sexual Violence, the Living Wage Campaign, and Students Against Sweatshops, was scheduled to coincide with a faculty meeting which decided the future of Harvard junior D. Drew Douglas.

Last September, Middlesex Superior Court convicted Douglas of indecent assault of a fellow student last spring. The faculty ultimately voted to dismiss Douglas by a vote of 119 to 19. Dismissal differs from expulsion in that Douglas could possibly return to Harvard in the future. However, he would have to petition the full faculty after presenting exonerating evidence. According to The Harvard Crimson, “dismissal has been approved only 12 times in the last 40 years.”

Although the criminal charge of rape against Douglas has been postponed, the Harvard Administrative Board found Douglas guilty of rape. Furthermore, the faculty as a whole was “not in any doubt that a rape occurred in this instance. Where we disagreed was on the appropriateness of the sanction of dismissal for this particular case,” Associate Professor of Government Louise M. Richardson told The Harvard Crimson.

Douglas is not the only convicted sex offender at Harvard. Junior Joshua M. Elster was convicted of three counts of rape of Harvard students. Elster is serving three years probation and is not allowed on Harvard property, but his case has not yet come before the faculty. He was also found guilty of rape by the Administrative Board.

MIT policies on rape vary

According to Stephen C. Graves, professor of management and chair of the Committee on Discipline, said that anything more serious than academic misconduct is handled by a panel from the Dean’s Office.

MIT waits until all criminal proceedings are finished before it begins an internal investigation. However, students who are acquitted in a criminal court are not exempt from MIT proceedings, Graves said.

Adam Brown contributed to the reporting of this story.