Contact: Gina Lauterio
SAVE Denounces Attempt to Muzzle Harvard U. Professors, Calls on Office for Civil Rights to Revamp Sexual Harassment Policy
WASHINGTON / December 15, 2015 – SAVE is denouncing efforts of producers of a controversial film who are attempting to prevent 19 Harvard Law School professors from engaging in scholarly criticism. The professors’ analysis was featured in a November 19, 2015 statement chastising the movie, The Hunting Ground, for providing an “unfair and misleading portrayal” of an alleged incident of campus sexual assault (1).
In response, filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering published a statement in the Harvard Crimson accusing the Harvard professors of creating a “hostile climate at Harvard Law.”
An allegation of causing a hostile climate could be considered grounds for investigating and disciplining the professors. According to a high-level Harvard administrator, several persons have already inquired about the possibility of a formal investigation (2).
The Free Speech Guidelines of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences say, “Free speech is uniquely important to the University because we are a community committed to reason and rational discourse. Free interchange of ideas is vital for our primary function of discovering and disseminating ideas through research, teaching, and learning.” (3)
But the Harvard Free Speech Guidelines appear to conflict with recent directives from the federal Office for Civil Rights (OCR) that define campus sexual harassment as “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.” A recent Letter signed by 15 professors criticized the OCR policies for causing an “alarming erosion of free speech and due process on college campuses.” For this reason, SAVE has called on Congress to rein in the federal Office for Civil Rights (4).
The Hunting Ground has been criticized in over 30 editorials for containing numerous factual errors and promoting an over-wrought “rape-culture” narrative (5). Editorialist Robbie Soave has commented that the movie co-producers apparently “believe that their work of propaganda should be immune from criticism.” (6)
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is working to protect free speech on campus and promote effective solutions to sexual assault: http://www.saveservices.org/