Table of ContentsIntroduction
General Overview of the Harvard College Administrative Board
History and Mandate
Overview of the Ad Board Process
The Purpose of the Ad Board
Dissemination of Information
Student Faculty Judicial Board
Advocacy and Ad Board Procedures
I: Modern Sources of Information on Discipline at Harvard
II: A Case Study: C*** K*****
IntroductionThis report is intended to provide a limited overview of the purposes and operations of the Harvard College Administrative
Board (Ad Board) and Student Faculty Judicial Board (SFJB) and to assess their limitations and weaknesses when utilized
as judicial bodies during disciplinary proceedings involving Harvard College students.
do not intend to advocate a specific system for administering and enforcing the regulations of
Harvard College. CLUH recognizes that Harvard College ought to have considerable discretion in
devising an administrative system compatible with its educational philosophy. The purpose of this
report is solely to highlight, and propose corrections to, structural and procedural problems that CLUH sees in Harvard's
handling of disciplinary matters.
CLUH hopes that this report will incite debate both
within and outside of the administration, thereby instigating reforms and perhaps inspiring others
to make innovations that further enhance the value, quality and compatibility with due process
of Harvard's judicial bodies.
Our recommendations, located at the end of this report, involve
many aspects of the judicial process, but the report reaches one general conclusion: despite the sincere efforts
of Harvard administrators who are committed to maintaining the educational integrity of the college
while preserving the rights of its students, disciplinary procedures at Harvard intrude on fundamental
concepts of due process and fairness while failing to promote the educational benefits that they
were designed to foster. Only a re-evaluation of Harvard's judicial philosophy accompanied
by significant procedural reforms can remedy these harms and fix a system that is desperately in need of a tune-up.
General Overview of the Harvard College Administrative BoardBefore analyzing the Ad Board, the primary disciplinary body at Harvard, it is useful for students and others to know precisely
what it is. We have therefore including a brief summary of the relevant facts pertaining to the
Board abstracted from publicly available sources, notably the Handbook for Students.
should note that the information below only outlines the Ad Board's purposes and procedures.
We are not aware of any information that in any way sheds light on how the Board deliberates
or on the results of these deliberations (beyond a rudimentary breakdown of cases decided for or against a student). Students
are able to discover what they should do for the Board, but are left in the dark as to what the
Board will do to them.
History and Mandate(1)The Ad Board was created in 1891 by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) to manage the burgeoning administrative duties
arising out of the day-to-day operations of a liberal arts college. Today, the Ad Board wields
the delegated authority of the FAS to grant exceptions to college rules and adjudicate disciplinary
issues. In this capacity it hears thousands of petitions a year, the vast majority of which are
routine requests for waiving certain college rules. Thus while many students come into contact
with the Ad Board, it is definitely not a purely judicial body, as most students tend to believe. Nevertheless, the
Ad Board is Harvard's principal judicial body and has ruled on all but one of the roughly 500
disciplinary cases over the past four years.
Judicial ScopeEvery year, approximately 170 students appear before the Ad Board in disciplinary cases where Ad Board determinations have
the potential to mar their permanent personal files. These cases break down into approximately
70 "special" petitions involving minor disciplinary infractions and 100 "extraordinary"
petitions involving a possible requirement to withdraw(2). It is with these 170 cases that CLUH is concerned.
Statistics indicate that roughly 67%(3) of all cases involving extraordinary petitions are decided against the student, although this high number may in part be
due to a screening process that removes cases where students are most likely innocent from the
Ad Board docket. An additional 70 or so "special" disciplinary petitions are decided
per year, but a breakdown of these decisions is unavailable. Despite the lack of specific data
on the outcomes of "special" petitions, there is no reason to assume that the percentage
of cases decided against the student is any lower than for "extraordinary" cases.
seem to indicate that most students who appear before the Ad Board in disciplinary procedures receive
negative additions to their permanent record.
PenaltiesThere is no publicly available information describing how the Ad Board assigns penalties to specific infractions. Neither
is there an available breakdown of penalties-to-crimes or even a rough indication of sentencing
precedent. The only specific information that we have found pertaining to penalties is that they
exist, and that there are five levels of them, broken down below from least severe to most severe:
1) Admonition: A "Formal Reprimand" placed on the students permanent record.
2) Probation: A "Serious
Warning" that sets a certain time during which extra-curricular involvement may be limited
and subsequent disciplinary infractions warrant serious consideration of a requirement to withdraw.
3) Requirement to Withdraw: A forced leave of usually one year, of which six months must be spent in "regular"
employment. Students may petition the Ad Board to be readmitted to the College after a set length
of time. Roughly 90%(4) meet re-admission requirements.
4) Dismissal: A severing of the connection between Harvard and a student by the FAS.
A dismissed student may only return to Harvard by the full vote of the FAS.
A permanent dismissal.
Overview of the Official Ad Board ProcessIn theory, students whose names have come to the attention of the Ad Board in connection with an infraction of College rules
or similar misconduct will be approached by their Alston Burr Senior Tutor (ABST) or Senior Advisor
(SA) and informed of the charges against them. The student is then given a form outlining his
options for representation before the Ad Board and informing him of his right to petition to have
his case heard by the SFJB. The student then meets with his advisor to write a statement that
the advisor will present to the Board. Some students occasionally participate in various Board-wide evidence gathering
processes, but by and large their involvement in their own defense is confined to writing their
statement. Students are not ordinarily encouraged to appear in person before the Ad Board, although
they have the right to do so before the SFJB. After the Ad Board deliberates, the student's
advisor informs the student of the Ad Board's decision, and if the student has been required
to withdraw, he or she has the right to personally appear before the Board in an appeal. If not, the case
is closed unless new information surfaces that warrents a re-evaluation of the case.
This process is analyzed
in more detail in the section on "Advocacy."
The Purpose of The
Ad BoardThere is considerable, if unacknowledged, disagreement within the official literature on the Ad Board over its exact purpose
within the Harvard Community. This lack of congruence in the literature reflects the internal
tension in Harvard's view of the manner in which the administration ought to interact with
Generally, the Ad Board views itself as "primarily an educational body with an educational role," meaning that
it hopes to give students a sense of their own "obligation[s]" to the community and
educate them as to the nature of responsible behavior.(5) This process of "moral education"(6) through a confrontation with concepts of right and wrong is intended to contribute to the "personal growth" of
the student "by helping students both to make sensible, realistic choices and to meet obligations
This desire to use the judicial process as an educational tool arises from two assumptions. First, that all Harvard
students deserve to be at Harvard, and that therefore disciplinary proceedings should help them
to "make progress toward [their] degree"(8) and second, that the "Board's business is the welfare of individual students."(9) This in turn gives rise to the Ad Board's two standards for evaluating cases: equity and personal responsibility. The
Board seeks to treat similar cases in similar fashions and to hold all students accountable for
their actions. Thus the Board sees itself not as a "jury"(10) (which would imply a role confined to merely administering rules) but rather as a moral arbiter of the student body, "articulat[ing]"
"general standards" for the Harvard community.(11) One should note at this point that the Ad Board's stated image of itself is necessarily process dependent; meaning
that it hopes to utilize its procedures (confrontation between right and wrong, etc...) as a learning
experience for the student, which is an end in itself. In contrast, if the Ad Board were merely
a judicial body, only the final finding of the board would have any significance for the Board.
This distinction highlights the need to focus on the actual effects of the Ad Board's procedures
in order to discover if it is capable of achieving its stated ends, or if in fact "moral education" is
even compatible with a University's judicial process.
CLUH believes that there are considerable
problems with the Ad Board's conception of itself. These problems arise due the fundamental
incompatibility between the administration of college rules and the stewardship of collegiate
morals. These functions should probably not lie within the same body, and should definitely not
be attempted at the same time. This is not to say that students can not learn from their experience
in a judicial proceeding - they can - rather, we believe that too many factors inherent in the judicial process undermine
the educational benefits that a well meaning body may attempt to impart, and that in fact attempts
at "moral education" are counterproductive to both the educational and judicial processes.
Students in contact with the Ad Board face serious threats to their future, and have a
significant stake in the outcome of their case - after all, the Ad Board's judicial functions
always have the potential to mete out punishment. This stake tends to focus students more on their survival as a
Harvard student than on the potential educational benefits of the disciplinary process. As a result,
these students are unlikely to derive an educational benefit from their experiences, and may
likely resent or misinterpret overtures to that end. While "moral education" may prove
helpful for some students, those who dispute the Ad Board's conception of the moral status
of the crimes for which they are accused are unlikely to benefit from a dialogue with their Senior Tutor. If anything,
the Ad Board utterly contradicts its own principles when dealing with such individuals because
it does not offer them a chance to try to convince the board, in a face-to-face dialogue, of
the merits of their view. Under the Ad Board system, the confrontation between right and wrong
is an educational experience only if the Ad Board thinks that it is right and the student knows that
he is wrong. These factors may exist in many cases, but it is doubtful that they exist in all cases.
presently constructed, the Ad Board is far more likely to alienate innocent students than it is
to help them by sending College officials to "educate" them. It is not even a given
that students who admit wrongdoing will derive any benefits from the judicial experience given
the implementational flaws in the Ad Board's philosophy. Thus innocent students that slip through the
screening process. are likely to be traumatized by the potential threat to their academic careers such that
they are unlikely to benefit from any aspect of the judicial process, guilty students are too
preoccupied to benefit from much of anything, and those in between have no real outlet to engage
in a dialogue that could in fact be "educational" - the system simply can not work as
In addition to the fact that "moral education" in the judicial setting
does not work, there is considerable tension between the Ad Board's role as a fact finding, deliberative and sentencing
body and its self-conceived role as a "moral educator." "Judicial" bodies,
of which even former Ad Board Chairman John Fox admits that the Ad Board is an example,(12) have an obligation to assume innocence and institute various procedural safeguards to ensure that justice is done fairly
- an individual's state of mind is secondary to his or her disposition. Educational bodies
have opposite duties, they must strive to effect the individual's state of mind using the
means, in this case coercive and intrusive means, at their disposal. While educational bodies
can certainly be fair, the presumptions that they convey are incompatible with fundamental concepts
of due process, as will be shown below.
This tension helps to explain why the administration has made contradictory
statements about the Ad Board in the few publications that it has released. We have already noted
the seemingly contradictory descriptions of the Board as "educational" and as "judicial,"
but there are others. For example, former Secretary of the FAS John Marquand has stated that the
Ad Board is more like a "classroom" than a "courtroom," lacking "charges"
and other legalisms.(13) Yet the SFJB charter published by the Faculty Council in 1987 refers to Ad Boarded students as the "accused" and
facing "charges."(14) These references are not aberrations, but merely indicate that the Ad Board indeed resembles a court in form and function;
it can not help but do so. The failure of the Ad Board to come to grips with this creates a gap
between what is done and how it is done - the board makes judicial determinations in a non-judicial
CLUH does not mean to imply that the Ad Board, by virtue of its judicial nature,
must act like a court. We recognize that Harvard College is a distinctive academic environment
with its own community standards that need to be enforced in a manner acceptable to the FAS, whose responsibility
it is to shape the community. However, basic procedural and substantive rights transcend the borders
of any community, and CLUH asks that the college respect these rights. But in order to do so,
the Ad Board must recognize that it is judicial in character, and model its proceedings to reflect
that fact. It is fine to desire to aid in the intellectual growth of students, but this must be
secondary to insuring a fair process when the two goals come into conflict.
"Informing oneself about the Board is not, I confess, a really easy thing to do"Since 1981, when Dean of the College John Fox submitted a 16 page report on the Ad Board to the Dean of the
Faculty, only 4-6 sources of information on the Ad Board have appeared. With the exception of
the yearly Handbook for Students, which gives a summary description of the Board, there has been
nothing at all written on the Board since 1987, and before that, nothing since 1983. The lack
of information is so acute that the 1990-91 Handbook referred students to Dean Fox's then
ten year old report for more information on the Board. The 1991-92 Handbook does not even contain that reference. The SFJB
suffers from an even greater dearth of information. A summary and description of available sources
of information on disciplinary procedures at Harvard appears in Appendix I.
-John Marquand, former Secretary
of the FAS(15)
This dearth of
available information impacts the judicial process in three important ways. First, ignorance of
the Ad Board encourages a climate of myth and distrust about the Board that ultimately undermines
that body's ability to fulfill either its educational or judicial roles. Second, the lack of any substantive
information about what treatment and punishment to expect from the Board precludes students from effectively
preparing their own defense. The Ad Board's goals of furthering education and fairness can
not be met so long as it maintains a veil of secrecy around its activities. Finally, the lack
of useful printed information forces students to turn to their ABST/SAs for advice, a course of
action that is problematic for the reasons stated in the previous paragraph.
The 1981 Fox report
highlighted the information problem, noting that the Ad Board had "never" succeeded in the "effective
communication of its work to the College community."(16) The report went on to explain why this was a problem by quoting an 1893 report on the Board:
"No Penalty can
educate the public unless known to the public; and the college penalties have long lacked educational
effect through secrecy. A man is dismissed from the University; and the student public which
either does not hear of his dismissal or understands that he has gone home for his health is none
It has been ninety-nine years since these words were first written, and
ten since they were re-written, and yet the flaws that they highlight persist today. If the Ad Board wishes
to maintain the illusion that it is an educational body that articulates community standards, it must take
steps to actually educate the community about the standards that it articulates.
Ad Board is partially correct when its states that information is available to interested students:
one can, with some digging, uncover considerable information about the process that students face
before the Ad Board. Yet even significant research will not uncover critical information about what will
happen to students, e.g. board precedents and biases of individual advocates. This lack of data has been attributed
to the secrecy under which the Board operates. Dean Marquand has stated that it is "impossible"
for the Board to "defend itself" from the attacks of critics because it "cannot
disclose the personal affairs of students."(17) CLUH finds such a position to be as indefensible as it is convenient. Student privacy is not incompatible with a clear
delineation of precedent and of the Board's expectations of students. Until such information
is released, the Board's college-wide educational goals can never be met because they will
never have the faith of the student body. Public accountability and understanding are the hallmarks
of legitimacy; the Ad Board lacks both.
In addition to precluding the education of the community
that the Ad Board strives for, the lack of information on precedents and other issues harms due process in a
number of ways. First, although information is available for those who look for it, the College
is obligated by any standard of "education" or due process to provide all the information
a student needs to effectively defend himself before the Board. Currently, the only information
provided directly to Ad Boarded students is a three page form that they must sign; they are not even given
the sixteen page Fox Report. The three page form is woefully inadequate for educating students about the Board.
It does not adequately explain the nature of the student/advocate relationship, nor does it give
enough information on the differences between the Ad Board and the SFJB for students to make
a rational choice between the two. This problem will be analyzed further in the advocacy and SFJB
sections of this report. In addition, there have been allegations that this form is sometimes not
given to students.(18) Thus students enter into the disciplinary process unaware of the (often inadequate) safeguards that exist for their benefit
- due process suffers because students do not even know the process that is due them.
student's ignorance of Ad Board precedent hinders their ability to adequately defend themselves
because they are unaware of what is expected of them, what considerations of equity may effect
them, and how the Ad Board views what they have done. Thus students are unable to learn from the
past, nor are they able to engage in the intellectual endeavor of trying to distinguish their case from
previous ones encountered by the Board. This is hardly educational for the students - they are forced to conform
to standards of which they know nothing and have no control over. Only the ABST/SAs are familiar
with Ad Board precedent, a fact that undermines whatever educational or deterrent value that
precedent may have.
In its most basic formulation, due process requires that individuals
appearing before judicial bodies be able to understand what they are being charged with, why the community
thinks what they have done is bad, and how it might respond, as well as have the opportunity to argue against
the above three suppositions. Harvard's process denies this right, fostering ignorance in
the name of education.
AppealsNo administrative body is infallible. In the normal course of events, procedures can be ignored and perspective lost. However,
when the "normal" course of events involves student's academic careers, as does
the Ad Board's docket, fallibility needs to be limited as much as possible. For this reason,
some form of recourse to a second body is necessary for students found to be in violation of Harvard
Present college policy permits two types of appeal. In cases where a
requirement to withdraw may be made, a personal appearance before the Ad Board and the ensuing discussion serve as
an appeal, albeit one in which a body reconsiders previously known information. In cases of dismissal,
the FAS must agree with the Ad Board's determinations, although its is unclear to what extent
students may influence the FAS' vote.
College officials have claimed that appeals
of factual determinations do not fit in with Harvard's conceptions of how a University should
run and would also present serious logistical difficulties. While CLUH supports as many safeguards
as possible within the judicial process, we can accept the college's reasoning in regard to the compatibly of
fact-based appeals with a college environment, assuming that CLUH's recommendations in regard
to Ad Board procedures are adapted. However, we do not now, nor will we ever, accept logistical
difficulties as an excuse for the denial of civil liberties. Appeals are still necessary, however,
because the Ad Board as a body is not always fit to contextualize violations of the rules and
provide a fair and appropriate punishment. While the Ad Board purports to articulate community standards it can not possibly
be expected to fairly understand the moral significance of every action that occurs on campus
in a manner consistent with the community's view on the issue. We are not implying that all
disciplinary matters should be resolved according to majoritarian standards, but rather that there
are cases that were the Ad Board to be in tune with community thought, it would decide differently
than it would have absent this knowledge. Harvard is a diverse place that cannot be adequately reflected by one disciplinary
body, recourse to a second body is a necessary component of an adequate judicial system for a
This need for diversity among deliberative bodies drives the logic
behind the creation of the SFJB, which was intended to give input on community standards to the
Ad Board, which would then use that knowledge to make better decisions. Thus even the Faculty
Council has recognized that at least some recourse to a second body is necessary to insure an environment of quality
decision-making for students whose permanent record will be effected by a disciplinary ruling. This
body should be independent of the Ad Board, and should be able to lower but not raise sentences
in any cases that it chooses to hear. It should also in some way have student involvement.
further justification for appeals lies in the need to assure that all students are treated in
the same, and procedurally correct, manner by the both the Ad Board and the SFJB, in keeping with their goal
of using equity as a criterion in deciding cases. Given that some procedural flaws are bound to occur (see
Appendix II), especially if the Ad Board adopts the admittedly complicated CLUH recommendations,
an appeals process ought to exist to remedy violations of a student's procedural rights. Any
violation of a significant Ad Board or SFJB procedure should be grounds for a reversal of punishment
and either the dismissal or reconsideration of a student's case.
Student Faculty Judicial
BoardThe bulk of this report has so far focused primarily on the problems within and surrounding the Administrative Board. The
Ad Board, however, is not the only disciplinary body at Harvard. The Student Faculty Judicial
Board (SFJB) forms the second leg of Harvard's disciplinary system. If the Ad Board leg can
be described as wobbly, its SFJB companion is nothing short of broken.
The Faculty Council created the SFJB to replace the under-utilized Committee on Rights and Responsibilities in 1987 and
to "hear cases where the offense or incident is not clearly covered by university rules or
precedent both on the degree of impermissability involved and on the appropriate range of penalties
to be applied."(19) It was hoped that the SFJB would articulate community standards on developing issues so that the Ad Board could then adjudicate
subsequent manifestations of those issues.
However, despite the faculty's hopes, the
SFJB has heard only one case during its four year existence. CLUH supports the Faculty Council's
original aims for the SFJB - we believe that many of the problems that the Ad Board faces in contexualizing
rule violations into community standards can be solved by increased use of a body that is more
reflective of the community. CLUH has identified a number of areas where the SFJB can be improved
to perform what it was intended for.
- Education. At present, the Handbook for Students contains
only two lines about the SFJB, offering only the advice to ask someone else about it. However,
an informal survey of Senior Tutors indicates that they are often not very knowledgable about
the SFJB.(20) The community ought to know considerably more about a board that supposedly reflects it.
Similarly, while the form that
students sign before commencing disciplinary proceedings devotes space to both the Ad Board and
the SFJB, students are not told how the SFJB procedurally differs from the Ad Board or why they
may wish to use it. Instead they are told to ask for information. It is therefore not surprising
that only one of approximately 500 eligible students has utilized the SFJB; they have no information
by which to gauge it, so using it is a shot in the dark in an already serious situation. What is even
worse, any student asking to see the list of current procedures for the SFJB would receive misleading information
- Another major problem stems from the deviation that
the SFJB has taken from what was intended of it. The form that offers students the option of petitioning
the SFJB implies that it is procedurally similar to Ad Board,(21) and the SFJB procedure sheet produced by its members states that "students should not have to choose between the [SFJB
and the Ad Board] because of different procedures."(22) While the SFJB was not intended as a procedural alternative to the Ad Board, its creators explicitly mandated a set of
procedures radically different from those of the Ad Board because of the "the nature of the
cases" that the SFJB was intended to hear.(23) For example, confrontation of witnesses and evidence, personal appearances in most cases and non-faculty advisors are all
allowed in the SFJB but not in the Ad Board. If students were aware of this, they might be more
inclined to use the SFJB.
- Advising. Given that only one in roughly five
hundred potential cases has gone to the SFJB, CLUH believes that ABST/SAs could not possibly be
adequately explaining the SFJB to students. If they had been, we presume that more than one case
would have been sent to the SFJB over the past four years. While ABST/SAs may legitimately feel that the use of the
SFJB is not in the best interest of students, the Faculty Council was correct in determining that
the SFJB could be of considerable value to certain students in certain situations. The Ad Board
should welcome the SFJB as a tool to help it define community standards rather then discouraging
its use. In the final analysis, students should be trusted to determine what is in their own
Advocacy and Ad Board ProceduresThe role of the ABST/SA in the disciplinary process most reflects the "educational" role that the Ad Board sees
itself as fulfilling but is also one of the most harmful aspect of the process to student's
civil liberties. Not only is the relationship between the student and his or her "advocate"(24) potentially coercive, but the manner in which ABST/SAs are expected to treat students implies an assumption of moral guilt
by the university that is incompatible with any standard of fairness, education, or due process.
The fundamental problem is that advocates have an agenda that is not necessarily compatible
with a students interest in receiving a fair hearing from the administration and receiving an
opportunity to justify themselves. Evidence of this tension can be seen in the Ad Board's
description of itself.
The language that the administration uses to describe itself is disturbing. In order to
present the Board with a "complete and balanced account" of a given incident and to
reflect the students "point of view" to the Board,(25) an advocate is expected to meet with the student to discuss the matter and work out a written statement to read on the students
behalf. Dean Fox calls this a "hearing,"(26) Dean Marquand calls it an "educational enterprise"(27) however CLUH finds an analogy to an inquisition more appropriate. We derive this analogy from the university's sacrifice
of the presumption of moral innocence to the goal of education.
While the Ad Board claims,
and CLUH has no reason to doubt, that all cases in which the facts are not clear are decided in
favor of the accused student, the word fact seems to have taken on a new and disturbing meaning.
Dean Marquand has stated that an advocate should help a student "shed light" on an "incident"(28) and Dean Fox has claimed that this process usually results in agreement between the advocate and student on the facts and
moral issues surrounding a students actions.(29) CLUH finds it impossible to believe that of the hundreds of students who have had their permanent record marred by the
Ad Board, a majority agreed with the Board as to the "fact" of the moral significance
of their offenses. The notion that students "come to terms"(30) with their behavior is an overly paternalistic concept reflective of the coercive power of the Ad Board. Of the students
that CLUH has talked to who have been Ad Boarded, a majority have felt intimidated by their advocate
(even if the advocate does not intend to intimidate the student, it can happen) into accepting
the Ad Board's view of the seriousness of their conduct. The Board's continued insistence
that students must answer all questions put to them also fosters an atmosphere where intimidation
can occur because a student can be forced to incriminate themselves during discussions with their advocate.
The effect of this intimidation is exacerbated by the Ad Board's occasional inability to reflect community
opinion, as student conduct is evaluated through a lens that students can neither understand
Thus the Ad Board's intertwined foci on education and discipline places
the Senior Tutor in the unfortunate role of simultaneously having to advance both the student's
and the Board's interests. In the end, neither party receives adequate representation.
even those students who do choose to actively dispute the Ad Board's conception of the moral significance
of what they have done face daunting obstacles. First, for those not under consideration for
probation, the Ad Board hears their case through the distorting prism of their advocate. Rather
than arguing their case before a twenty-five person board, students must present their case through
a surrogate, who whether by intent, bias, or simple human fallibility can not ordinarily present a student's
point of view as well as the students themselves. Thus students lose out on the ability to be "educated"
because they can not present their case to the board and therefore lose the limited opportunity
to express themselves and engage in a dialogue with the Board.
Even those students who
are able to appear before the Board do not have very many opportunities to influence it. They
may ask questions, but may not cross-examine witnesses. These circumstances make discovery and discourse
next to impossible.
In summary, the Ad Board decides the fate of students based on the recommendations
of advocates who, in paractice, students most likely did not choose, do not control, and who
do not necessarily have to recommend action that the student would agree with. The Board, which
lacks any significant student input, then evaluates the charges and assigns punishment based on
their perception of community standards; perceptions that the student has neither knowledge of nor influence
on. The student's sole influence on the process is either a written statement read by someone else and
written after a dialog with an inherently coercive institutional actor or a personal appearance
devoid of significant procedural benefits, and probably discouraged by their advocate anyway.
This is hardly educational, definitely not fair, and certainly a violation of any standard of
ConclusionThe publicly available literature on the Ad Board, as well as CLUH's contacts with its individual members, indicate
that the Board has a genuine concern for student welfare, but that it lacks an adequate vision
of how to make that concern compatible with fundamental standards of civil liberties. The Ad
Board itself is in theory a noteworthy institution; it utilizes compassionate and motivated jurists
seeking to reflect community standards while caring for the welfare of the individuals that it deals
with. Yet in practice procedures have developed that significantly degrade basic rights of due process and ironically
preclude the fulfillment of the Boards primary goal: "moral education."
that arises is not 'how are civil liberties compatible with the Ad Board', but 'how
can the Ad Board be made compatible with civil liberties'? We hope that our recommendations
provide functional and just answers to this question. We have deliberately kept our recommendations
on the theoretical level, as we believe that the College should define its own procedures. However, as always, CLUH
is willing to submit more detailed proposals if the administration requests them.
CLUH supports the College's policy stating that life at Harvard should be based on the exercise of rights and the fulfillment
of responsibilities. CLUH has exercised its right to "press for actions on matters of concern."
We urge the Faculty to fulfill its responsibility for "openness to constructive change."(31)
RecommendationsThe following recommendations stem from the analysis in the body of this report. Although we believe that the adoption of
any one of the policies listed below would be step in the right direction, the problems with Harvard's
disciplinary system are deeply rooted in its structure and procedures, and therefore meaningful
reform can be achieved only through serious consideration and implementation of most or all of
1. That Harvard publish a brief
summary of all disciplinary cases handled over a given time period, supplying as much detail as possible within the
constraints of applicable state and federal laws requiring non-disclosure of the identities of students
involved in disciplinary matters. This summary should be given to all students facing disciplinary
proceedings. Dean Jewett has informed CLUH that such a proposal is feasible, and we look forward
to its implementation. This
report was drafted by Assistant Director for University Affairs Allan Erbsen' 94 and approved
for distribution by the Executive Board of the Civil Liberties Union of Harvard.
2. That Harvard publish a pamphlet fully describing every aspect of
the disciplinary process including: an overview of the Ad Board's penalties, composition, procedures,
precedents and expectations of students; a summary and bibliography of Harvard College regulations for student
conduct; a complete overview of the Student Faculty Judicial Board; an explication of the student-advocate
relationship; and any other pertinent information. This pamphlet should be distributed to all
Harvard students, and students should be made to sign a form indicating that they have had a chance
to read it before they face any Ad Board proceedings.
3. That Harvard create an ombudsofficer
who would be available to help students through the disciplinary process in an informal capacity.
For example, this person could direct students to publications, suggest alternative advocates and advisors and give
the student some idea of what to expect. ABST/SAs do this now, but we believe this role is more
appropriately handled by someone who will not become, and is not already, directly involved in
a student's case. The ombudsofficer should not be a member of the Ad Board, but of course
should be familiar with it.
4. That Harvard acknowledge that the Ad Board is primarily a judicial
body, which may by effect also achieve other goals.
5. That Harvard establish an appeals board for Ad
Board and SFJB sentences. This board should have the power to lessen, but not raise, punishments
and to review charges of procedural improprieties in the handling of a given case. The board
should in some way involve student input, and should have the ability to select those cases which
it shall hear on appeal. It would make sense that this Board be a subset of the Faculty Council, which currently
oversees the Ad Board. Note: we are not advocating that a new appeals board hold a hearing, but only
that it review cases.
6. That the SFJB revise its procedures to reflect the Faculty Council's
original intent that it be a alternative forum to the Ad Board. While the FAS may not have intended
the SFJB to be used because of its procedures, these may be attractive to students, and students
should be informed about them and have access to them.
7. That the Senior Tutor or Senior
Advisor no longer be the presumed advocate of a student in front of the Ad Board. Students should be able to pick any
officer of Harvard to be their advocate (with the knowledge that advocates not versed in Ad Board
procedures may not be as effective as those who are). In-practice, students may already pick
any member of the Board to be their advocate, but this is not encouraged. There is a strong and
unwarranted pressure on a student to pick their ABST as their advocate. The Ad Board should maintain
a list of faculty and Harvard officials who are willing to serve as advocates or advisors for those who want them.
8. That students appearing before the Ad Board be entitled to ask questions of Board
members, challenge (if not cross-examine) witnesses and evidence, and be informed of all evidence
that the Ad Board will consider in their case.
9. That the Ad Board decline to rule on
any case for which it lacks the background knowledge to provide a fair judgment. For example,
cases involving the misuse of technology that the Ad Board does not understand should automatically ( unless the student
objects) be referred to the SFJB, which is better equipped to handle such cases.
Harvard create another level of punishment that would allow the Ad Board to exact penance from
a student without marring that students permanent record with a disciplinary problem.
Modern Sources of Information on Discipline at Harvard
Other recent sources,
such as occasional news articles, may exist, but CLUH is not aware of them. As far as we know,
nothing has been officially released by the faculty about the Ad Board since 1987, with
the exception of the revisions in the sketchy outline in the Handbook
- Faculty Council Report on the Student Faculty Judicial Board, 1987. This report is the most comprehensive document
on the SFJB. It was written at the time of the Board's creation
and outlines its purposes and procedures.
of the SFJB. Contains a list of procedures adapted by the SFJB which do not parallel those outlined
in the Faculty Council Report.
- "The Administrative
Board and the Judicial Board." This form is distributed to all
students who face disciplinary proceedings. It gives a basic outline of the jurisdictions and procedures
of the two boards.
- Dean of the College's Report to
the Dean of the FAS, 1980-81. This is the most comprehensive description
available of the purposes of the Ad Board and the rationale behind its advocacy procedures.
- Speech by Dean John Marquand to Freshman Advisors,
Fall 1982. An interesting description of the Ad Board intended for those who will counsel
students about it.
- Handbook for Students. Contains basic information on
the Ad Board.
- Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities.
This document can be found in the Handbook for Students and outlines
the code of conduct expected of students and the rights that they possess.
Fox's statement in the April 14, 1983 Harvard Crimson. Basically
repeats what he said in his 1980-81 report.
- Procedures of the Committee
on Rights and Responsibilities. While this document has nothing to do with the Ad Board,
it does present an interesting alternative formulation of the nature
of the judicial process. The CRR no longer exists, but some if its
defunct procedures might be worth reviving.
- "The Ad Board and You."
An Undergraduate Council pamphlet from the early 1980s.
College Parents Newsletter. Dec, 1982. A somewhat simplistic but fascinating
description of the Board intended for parents.
- Personal Appearances: Guidelines.
An official two-page overview of procedures for making personal appearances
before the Ad Board.
A Case Study: C*** K*****(32)The case of C*** K*****, a freshman who was admonished by the Ad Board for misusing a modem, illustrates the problems
with the Ad Board's advocacy process.
C*** was accused of,
and admitted to, using a modem and an illegally obtained computer
account to send E-mail messages to friends using other peoples names‹a high-tech version
of sending a letter with a false signature and return address. He
was formally admonished by the Ad Board. Throughout the process C*** maintained that the actions
for which he was accused of did not warrant admonishment by the Board. While CLUH takes no position
on the appropriateness of the level of punishment given to C***,
serious procedural errors during his case indicate both isolated and
inherent flaws in the way that the Ad Board operates.
First, C*** was never given the
form outlining the Ad Board and the SFJB that all students are supposed to sign
before talking with their Senior Advisor. He thus never received any knowledge
about his ability to choose another advocate, which is important given that he did not trust
his Senior Advisor. He was also not aware of the existence of the
SFJB, which would have been the perfect forum for adjudicating his case, since it involved
abuse of technology on which community standards have not yet been articulated.
He thus was deprived of knowledge critical to his defense and on these grounds
alone should have his admonishment reconsidered.
Second, upon hearing that he
was being Ad Boarded, C*** was told that due to the almost complete ignorance
of computer networking within the Ad Board, a special sub-committee
was being set up to study the issue. C*** heard nothing more on the case for six weeks, during
which time he was justifiably quite nervous. While CLUH applauds the Ad Board's efforts
to gain more knowledge on the issue, we fail to see why this took
six weeks, why it was not suggested that the SFJB handle the issue, and how the Ad Board could
possibly feel that its goal of helping a student "make progress
toward his degree" was achieved when the student in question spent
the first six weeks of his second semester at Harvard in fear of not being around to ever get that degree.
Again, CLUH does not see how C*** was treated in either a judicial or educational
Third, C*** never was able trust his Senior Advisor
to adequately represent him. He does not feel that her defense of him in front of the Ad Board
was spirited, believing her to be "ambivalent" about his
case. Whether his assessment is correct is beside the point; what is clear is that a
system in which students do not trust their representatives has emerged in the Ad Board, and because
of this it can not possibly be achieving its educational or judicial
Fourth, C*** was denied the ability to appear personally
before the Ad Board, having been advised by his advocate (whom he already did not trust) that
it was not in his interest to do so. Thus C*** never knew about the
SFJB, was not given the opportunity to pick an alternative advocate, and was not even allowed
to represent himself. Such officially sanctioned ignorance and incapacitation serves no educational
purpose and represents a departure from basic standards of due process.
Some of the issues raised by this case are not inherent flaws
of the Ad Board; CLUH is reasonably confident that most students receive the required forms and
have some faith in their advocates. However, the injustice suffered
by C*** would not have been possible if the Harvard community had more access to information
on the Ad Board and the SFJB. Furthermore, if Ad Board procedures were more receptive to alternative
advocates and personal appearances, C*** would not be as alienated
from the administration as he is now.
It should be noted
that C*** has allowed CLUH to make his case public despite his own fears that reprisals of some
form will be made. CLUH hopes that such fears are unfounded in a modern educational
This case adds impetus to our call for reform, and additionally
compels us to demand that the Ad Board investigate the violations in its established procedures
that C*** alleges occurred. If his claims are correct, his admonition
should be reconsidered. If no mechanisms exists for such a review
procedure, they must be created.
Notes(1) Abstracted from numerous sources
(2) Handbook for Students 1991-92. Pp 74-75
(3) 76 of 105 "extraordinary"
cases were decided against students in 1990 91, 72 out of 135 in 1988-89
and 72 of 91 in 1987-88. Source: Handbooks for Students, 1989-90,
(4) Speech by John Marquand, Secretary of the FAS, to Freshmen Advisors in Fall,
(5) Marquand speech.
(6) Dean Fox's 1980-81 report
to the FAS. Pg 3.
(7) Fox Report.
(8) Fox Report. Pg 3.
(9) Harvard Crimson, April 14, 1983.
(11) Fox Report. Pg 2.
(12) Fox Report. Pg 2
(13) Marquand speech
Council Report on the SFJB, 1987. Pg1
(15) Marquand speech
(16) Fox Report.
(17) Marquand speech
(18) See Appendix
(19) SFJB Report. Pg 2
These conclusions do not arise from anything resembling a scientific
survey, but reflect the impressions of CLUH officers who have discussed the SFJB and
other issues with their Senior Tutors and Advisors.
(21) The sheet states that
the two bodies are "identical to or very similar to" each other, citing
only the open nature of the hearings as evidence of differences.
sheet can be obtained from Professor Stone. CLUH is not exactly sure what status
these procedures hold because they have never been utilized.
SFJB Report. Pg1
(24) Marquand speech
(25) Official Form given to all students appearing
on disciplinary charges before the Ad Board.
(26) Fox Report. Pg 5
(28) Marquand speech
(29) Fox Report. Pg5
(30) Fox Report. Pg4
(31) Excerpts from the Resolution
on Rights and responsibilities passed by the FAS on April 14, 1970.
(32) The following summery of events is based on statements made by C*** K***** '95
to CLUH. We have no reason to doubt his account, but acknowledge that
it can not be supported by independent sources. It should be noted that CLUH
sought out Mr. K***** after hearing of his case through a third party; he did not seek out our aid