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Harvard hires first Title IX coordinator for the university

Posted by Your Town  March 12, 2013 06:35 PM

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Harvard has hired its first ever Title IX coordinator for the university, a former attorney who investigated Title IX cases for the US Department of Education, university officials confirmed Tuesday.

Mia Karvonides, former attorney for the Office of Civil Rights in the US Department of Education, started the job on March 4, according to an e-mail Harvard's Chief Diversity Officer, Lisa M. Coleman, sent to colleagues.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from sex-based discrimination, including failure to give equal opportunity in athletic programs and sexual harassment.

According to the e-mail, Karvonides’ duties at the Office of Civil Rights included investigating post-secondary and elementary/secondary institutions for compliance with Title IX.

“Mia's expertise and leadership on all areas pertinent to gender equity and relevant equal opportunity issues, as well as her skills in policy development, training and strategic planning, will enable her to partner and collaborate with colleagues from across the university,” Coleman wrote in the e-mail.

The university has been criticized for failing to adhere to Title IX guidelines, and the US Department of Education is still investigating Harvard Law School after a complaint arose in 2010.

In April of 2011, the Globe reported that the civil rights division of the US Department of Education began investigating the Harvard Law School after allegations surfaced that the school’s policies regarding response to cases of sexual assault violated Title IX rules.

Wendy J. Murphy, a lawyer who had been hired by Harvard Law to “work on a Title IX issue,” told the Globe that she filed the complaint in the fall of 2010, after she found
three policies that were not in accordance with federal regulations.

According to the Globe article, Murphy said one of the policies included waiting to address cases of alleged sexual assault on campus until police and prosecutors had concluded the investigation. She said criminal investigations can last a long time, “leaving [victims] vulnerable to retaliation from their attackers and others during the rest of their time in school,” the article said.

But a Harvard Law official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, denied Murphy’s claims, according to the 2011 Globe article.

The official said Harvard hearings can be held before the investigations are closed, though he could not say how often that occurs. He also said the law school pays for an attorney chosen by each alleged victim.

According to The Harvard Crimson, the case has not been resolved.

And last week, the Crimson published a story in which students who alleged that they had been sexually assaulted on campus, condemned the university’s policies regarding sexual assault cases.

The article details the claims of these students, including one female student who said she reported the rape to Harvard, and she initially “felt encouraged by the responses of Harvard University Police Department and the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response,” but that in the end the perpetrator was allowed to stay on campus.

“Assured that there was significant evidence to build a case against the perpetrator, [the victim] took her case to the Ad Board,” the article said. “In light of this, she said, the Ad Board’s ultimate decision not to require the perpetrator to withdraw was particularly disheartening.”

Katherine Landergan can be reached at klandergan@globe.com. For campus news updates, follow her on Twitter @klandergan.

Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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