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  • Invasion of Privacy Scandal Rocks Harvard University

    3/11/2013 2:59:37 PM Posted by Stephen Smoot

    It has been a rough 21st century for Harvard.Harvard

    For years, the school's grade inflation policy made it somewhat of a joke among fellow Ivy League schools.  Too many As, too little actual learning.

    Recently, the school's student paper lashed out against Senator Ted Cruz and others who complained about the Marxist leanings of many faculty members.  Of course research proved that Cruz was dead on accurate.

    Harvard's reputation suffered from a cheating scandal that broke last summer.  Over 120 students allegedly cheated by copying answers on a take home exam.  Apparently the honor system was not effective in this case.

    Now it has come to light that the Harvard University administration snooped into the email accounts of 16 resident deans to discover who leaked last summer's cheating story to the media.

    The New York Times reported that

    Last fall, the administrators searched the e-mails of 16 resident deans, trying to determine who had leaked an internal memo about how the deans should advise students who stood accused of cheating. But most of those deans were not told that their accounts had been searched until the past few days, after The Boston Globe, which first reported the searches, began to inquire about them.

    Rather than the searches being kept secret from the resident deans, “they should’ve been asked openly,” said Richard Thomas, a professor of classics. “This is not a good outcome.”

    According to the blog of Dr. Harry Lewis, a long time professor of computer science at the school, Harvard University does have the legal right to snoop.  The New York Times did quote him as calling the practice "dishonorable." Lewis also said that “People are just bewildered at this point, because it was so out of keeping with the way we’ve done things at Harvard.” He said that it also made it more likely that professors would use their own personal accounts rather than the university's system.

     Faculty and students alike should understand that university emails generally are subject to policies that can make them available to administrators.  In the case of Harvard University, a user must login before seeing the policy. 

    Harvard's actions were within the university's rights, but many faculty and students alike believe that they violated its values.

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