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Harvard creates office to handle sex assault, harassment claims

Published on Jul 3, 2014 6:30 AM
 
Prospective students and their parents stand in Harvard Yard during their tour of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts Tuesday, Sept 12, 2006. Harvard University said on Wednesday it had created an office to investigate all claims of sexual harassment or sex assault, a move that comes as campus sex crimes are receiving greater scrutiny across the United States. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

BOSTON (REUTERS) - Harvard University said on Wednesday it had created an office to investigate all claims of sexual harassment or sex assault, a move that comes as campus sex crimes are receiving greater scrutiny across the United States.

Harvard's new investigating body will use a "preponderance of evidence" standard to determine whether sexual assault or harassment occurred in the cases it reviews. That is a lower standard of proof than its current approach. "This new, progressive policy - alongside the new, centralised procedures for investigating reports - will significantly enhance Harvard's ability to address these incidents when they occur," said Drew Faust, president of the Ivy League university in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The policy will apply to harassment based on gender identity or sexual orientation, also covering gay, lesbian and transgender students. The office will be open in the academic year that begins in September.

The White House has declared sex crimes to be "epidemic" on US college campuses, with one in five students falling victim to sex assault during their college years.

 
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