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Elizabeth Bartholet

  • Do Male Freshmen Know What ‘Rape’ Is, and How to Negotiate Consent?

    October 5, 2015

    Starting college can be a scary, confusing time in a person’s life. You’re often away from your family for the first time. You have to figure out a major, and the kind of career you will want after college. You need to make new friends and create a new social circle. But what scares ‘Andrew’ (not his real name), a freshman at Tulane University in Louisiana, the thing that most concerns him about going to college is sexual assault—not being a victim of it, but being wrongly accused of committing it...“What’s most interesting about this case is that it would not have been brought ten years ago, and not because of any changes in law but because of changes in attitude,” Harvard Law lecturer and former judge Nancy Gertner told the The Daily Beast of the “froze” in fear justification the victim used for not telling Labrie to stop...In the past year, law professors at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania have openly opposed administrative changes to sexual assault policy. Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Bartholet told The Daily Beast, “there’s the risk we will find a lot of people responsible for sexual assault when they shouldn’t be."

  •  Has Child Protective Services Gone Too Far?

    October 1, 2015

    ...Advocates for families caught up in the child-welfare system hope that the national debate sparked by the free-range parenting movement will draw attention to the threats and intrusions that poor and minority parents endure all the time...Among them is Elizabeth Bartholet, a Harvard Law professor and faculty director of the school’s Child Advocacy Program. Although Roberts once worked as Bartholet’s research assistant, today they represent opposite poles in the debate. Bartholet, a white woman who formerly worked for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, calls her opponents “extreme family preservationists” who are “putting kids at risk by insisting that, at almost all costs, they stay at home” with abusive or neglectful parents. She maintains that anecdotes about outrageous CPS intrusions are outliers: “More people need to think about all these issues from the point of view of the child.”

  • Elizabeth Bartholet of Harvard Law on DCF (audio)

    September 29, 2015

    Elizabeth Bartholet, Faculty Director of the Child Advocacy Program at Harvard Law, discusses Governor Baker's announcement of the DCF overhaul.

  • Elizabeth at the front of a classroom speaking

    After ‘Baby Bella’: Bartholet indicts systemic failures to protect at-risk children

    September 24, 2015

    Elizabeth Bartholet '65, renowned child welfare advocate and founding faculty director of Harvard Law School’s Child Advocacy Program, has been at the center of many public conversations following the discovery of the child, once known as Baby Doe, but since identified as Bella Bond.

  • Baby Bella, Salman Rushdie & The Opidoid Crisis (video)

    September 22, 2015

    Harvard Child Advocacy Program Faculty Director Elizabeth Bartholet and NECIR Senior Reporter Jenifer McKim talk Baby Bella and the DCF.

  • Elizabeth Bartholet of Harvard Law on Bella Bond (audio)

    September 22, 2015

    Elizabeth Bartholet, Faculty Director of the Child Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School, discusses the Bella Bond case and the efforts of the DCF.

  • Out of the Shadows

    September 21, 2015

    Christopher Berry’s troubles started long before he killed his infant son in 2013. After surviving a suicide bombing and returning from Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress in 2011, Berry racked up arrests for allegedly shoving his teenage girlfriend, deliberately running over pigeons, and stealing from his employer. Yet, when state social workers got a report that the Lowell couple was neglecting month-old William James Berry in the spring of 2013, records show they assigned the family to the “lower risk” category of state protection for children they believe are not in immediate danger...Elizabeth Bartholet, a Harvard law professor and national critic of the two-track program, said the Hardwick report “screams out” that social workers involved with the family were more concerned with keeping the family together than ensuring the boy’s safety. Especially for children in the lower risk category, Bartholet said, “Best interest of the child is clearly not the standard.”

  • Little-known Education Department office driving aggressive investigation of campus sexual assaults

    August 17, 2015

    For the last four years, a little-known civil rights office in the U.S. Department of Education has forced far-reaching changes in how the nation’s colleges and universities police, prosecute and punish sexual assaults on campus...."It’s tragic what the federal government has done," said Elizabeth Bartholet, a civil rights activist and professor at Harvard Law School. "They are creating a backlash against the very cause they are fighting for."..."When the case is ambiguous, when the memories are clouded by alcohol consumption or time, we shouldn’t be punishing people," said [Janet] Halley, a self-described feminist once responsible for investigating such accusations at Stanford University. "I’m afraid that’s what we are doing, we are over-correcting," Halley said. "The procedures that are being adopted are taking us back to pre-Magna Carta, pre-due-process procedures."

  • Ruling may have broad effect on campus sex misconduct investigations

    July 15, 2015

    It began as a typical college hookup: two students at UC San Diego met at a party last year, began drinking and ended up in bed. The encounter snowballed into a sexual assault complaint, university investigation and a finding that the male student should be suspended. But the accused student fought back in court and won — marking what is believed to be the first judicial ruling in recent years that a university failed to provide a fair trial in a sexual misconduct case. Some legal experts said Tuesday that the finding could have a broad national impact...Last fall, 28 Harvard Law School faculty members wrote an article criticizing their campus procedures on sexual assault cases as lacking "the most basic elements of fairness and due process" and "overwhelmingly stacked against the accused." They forged an agreement with Harvard to develop their own process for law school cases, including the right to appointed counsel, stronger procedures for cross-examination and selection of independent investigators without university ties, according to Elizabeth Bartholet, a Harvard law professor.

  • Harvard Law School: The road to marriage equality

    June 26, 2015

    Since at least 1983, when Harvard Law student Evan Wolfson ’83 wrote a third-year paper exploring a human rights argument for same-sex marriage, Harvard Law School has participated in anticipating, shaping, critiquing, analyzing and guiding the long path toward marriage equality.

  • Rachel Dolezal And The ‘Transracial’ Problem: Adoptees, Parents Speak Out On Comparison

    June 22, 2015

    For decades, "transracial" has been used by academics, groups, parents and their adopted children to describe the adoption of a child that is racially different than the adoptive parents. But the term is now being used to describe Rachel Dolezal, a former NAACP chapter president who made international headlines in recent days when she was outed as a white woman posing as black...Elizabeth Bartholet, a law professor at Harvard Law School, has a birth child as well as two children she adopted from Peru. Bartholet said she identifies as the mother of all three of her children, no matter their cultural background. “But that doesn’t mean I’m going to say to people, ‘I was born Peruvian,’” she said in a telephone interview Wednesday. Bartholet, who specializes in child welfare and adoption, said parents should embrace the cultures of their transracial adopted children without having to lie about their own racial identity.

  • Caught Between Criticisms

    May 28, 2015

    Last July, Harvard could seemingly breathe a sigh of relief. The University had just unveiled a new policy and set of procedures intended to centralize and revamp its approach to handling sexual harassment and to ensure compliance with the anti-sex discrimination law Title IX...But within days, the sense of ease faded, once again, into months-long controversy, criticism, and debate....Elizabeth Bartholet, a Law School professor who signed the Globe letter, said she wishes Harvard had taken more of a leadership role against the federal government, which she claims is pressuring universities to lead investigation processes that deny due process rights to the accused...Janet E. Halley, one of the Law professors who signed the Globe letter and has played a leadership role in pushing for changes to the Law School’s Title IX procedures, also argued that engaging students is crucial. “We really need to be walking towards the students and saying, 'What is this really about?'” Halley said.

  • Columbia Student Joins The Men Fighting Back in Campus Rape Cases

    April 27, 2015

    Columbia University is one of the many schools to be accused of failing to protect the rights of sexual assault victims. This week, it became one of the first to be singled out for failing to protect the rights of the accused. On Wednesday, Paul Nungesser, the male student who was the target of the now-famous “Carry That Weight” campaign filed a federal complaint against Columbia University, its board of trustees, and President Lee C. Bollinger...These cases beg the question: will students accused of sexual assault be headed to court en masse? Legal experts interviewed for this article say that may, in fact, be the next phase in national campus sexual assault reform—and they say the federal government is to blame. “I think the next wave will be students suing the universities. I think there will be an escalating wave,” said Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Bartholet...“When you get things like the federal government pressuring universities to create a sexual assault process that lacks adequate due process for those accused, you’re going to get students trying to protect themselves,” said Bartholet. Under current campus policy, she believes “there’s the risk we will find a lot of people responsible for sexual assault when they shouldn’t be. That will lead to some of them fighting back with the help of lawyers against the university and the government. I think that’s a good and healthy thing because what the federal government has done is outrageous,” she said.

  • Lawyers are dealing with changing rules on college sexual assault

    February 24, 2015

    As colleges grapple with the recent publicity over campus sexual assaults and violence, so, too, are lawyers dealing with the complicated legal issues involved in filing and investigating grievances. The problem, some lawyers say, is that due process has been abandoned in campus disciplinary procedures that address student-on-student sexual misconduct claims...There’s a sense among some law school faculty that Harvard should have pushed back on the OCR finding, particularly regarding due process rights for the accused, says professor Elizabeth Bartholet, one of the signers. “There are many university leaders who have a problem with the policy. Harvard could have provided an important leadership role in terms of challenging the government. I think [universities] are very nervous and are acting incredibly timidly,” says Bartholet, who serves as faculty director of the law school’s Child Advocacy Program.

  • In Memo, Law Profs Pushed for Title IX Procedural Changes

    February 13, 2015

    Twenty Harvard Law School professors who had publicly spoken out against Harvard’s University-wide sexual harassment policy submitted a memo last fall requesting that the Law School investigate its own sexual harassment cases, rather than go through Harvard’s central investigation office...The document, parts of which signatory and Law School professor Elizabeth Bartholet shared with The Crimson this week, sheds light on the process that led to the adoption of the local procedures that, if implemented, in many respects will circumvent Harvard’s newly centralized approach to handling sexual misconduct...Law School professor John Coates, who chaired the committee that wrote the school’s new procedures, confirmed in an email that the committee considered the memo’s principles when it drafted the procedures.

  • Harvard Law Pushes Back

    February 2, 2015

    The University of Virginia held a two-day conference last February on “Sexual Misconduct Among College Students.” One of the speakers was the Education Department’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Catherine Lhamon, who touted her office’s efforts to compel colleges and universities, under pain of losing federal funds, to adopt draconian policies on sexual harassment and assault. These policies have raised serious concerns about due process and basic fairness for the accused, and an audience member asked Ms. Lhamon how she planned to deal with such “push-back.” Her reply: “We’ve received a lot of push-back, and we need to push forward notwithstanding.” The recent experience of Harvard Law School demonstrates the value of pushing back...Most institutions yield to OCR’s pressure without significant dissent. But at Harvard, 28 law professors—including liberal luminaries Elizabeth Bartholet, Alan Dershowitz, Nancy Gertner, Janet Halley, Duncan Kennedy and Charles Ogletree —signed an open letter, published in the Boston Globe, in which they described the new policies and procedures as “inconsistent with many of the most basic principles we teach.”...Still, the law school’s new procedures are a significant improvement over the university’s, and they promise more fairness than the kangaroo-court systems many universities have adopted under OCR pressure. The investigation of Harvard College is still under way, and the university could do far worse than to follow the lead of Harvard Law, the school that pushed back.

  • ‘Punishing Us For Being Women’: UVA Sorority Members Protest Frat Party Ban

    January 29, 2015

    Sorority women at the University of Virginia were ordered to stay home on the biggest party night of the year to protect their “safety and well-being” -- and they are furious about it. Members of the National Panhellenic Conference told 16 UVA sorority chapters last week not to participate in Boys’ Bid Night fraternity parties on Saturday. The revelry has led to allegations of sexual assault and excessive drinking in the past. Women who break the prohibition may face sanctions...“This is the wrong approach to thinking about how to empower women,” said Elizabeth Bartholet, a professor of civil rights and family law at Harvard Law School. “It’s not the right reaction to say we need to keep women away.” Bartholet is one of 28 law professors who signed an open letter last year condemning Harvard’s sexual-misconduct policy, saying it “departs dramatically” from current law.

  • Seeking to Strengthen Sex-Assault Policies, Colleges Draw Fire From All Sides

    January 8, 2015

    Depending on whom you talk to these days, Harvard University’s policies to prevent sexual assault either are woefully inadequate or risk trampling on the rights of men following tipsy, consensual hookups....According to the law professors, Harvard’s universitywide policy would put students at serious risk of being found guilty of rape if the students involved were "impaired" by alcohol or drugs, rather than "incapacitated," said Elizabeth Bartholet, a Harvard law professor who signed the letter...."This means that students who engage in sexual touching or sexual intercourse while having a few drinks are all at risk of being held guilty of the very serious charges of sexual assault and rape," she wrote in an email to The Chronicle, "regardless of their understanding at the time that they mutually consented to such activity."

  • Harvard Law Professor: Feds’ Position on Sexual-Assault Policies Is ‘Madness’

    January 5, 2015

    On Tuesday, the Department of Education said Harvard Law School’s current and past harassment policies and procedures didn’t comply with Title IX requirements, which bar gender discrimination at schools receiving federal financial aid. The announcement marked the resolution a probe by the department’s Office for Civil Rights, which is investigating campus sexual-assault issues at dozens of schools, including Harvard’s undergraduate college. While Harvard pledged to make changes, Elizabeth Bartholet, a veteran law professor at Harvard Law who teaches civil rights and family law, called the federal government’s recent campaign against colleges “madness” and said history would prove it wrong on the law. (Prof. Bartholet has been an outspoken opponent of policies that she and other law professors say strip students accused of sexual assault of their due-process rights.)

  • New Expert Investigators Won’t Solve the Campus Rape Problem

    December 2, 2014

    New scrutiny on the prevalence of campus rape and government inquiries into how college administrators handle the problem have compelled many schools to reconsider how they respond to reports of sexual assault. Some universities have turned to hiring nonacademics to investigate rape cases, but that approach invites new concerns about who’s qualified to judge whether one student has victimized another—and what should be done about it...Full-time investigators aren’t necessarily impartial just because they work outside academia, either. Schools “could easily choose an outsider who has the same mindset” as the administration, says Elizabeth Bartholet, a Harvard Law School professor who signed a letter in the Boston Globe that condemned Harvard’s new sexual harassment policy. “I don’t think simply farming out the job will solve the problem,” she says.

  • Harvard’s Elizabeth Bartholet Takes on Differential Response

    November 20, 2014

    In her latest paper, Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Bartholet does her best to dismember the widely popular child welfare strategy known as Differential Response, or simply DR...But as controversial as her ideas may be, Bartholet’s “Differential Response: A Dangerous Experiment in Child Welfare” is a notable contribution to the growing debate around DR, and the chronic battle fought in a resource-starved child welfare field over family preservation and child safety.