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Mar 11, 2013 07:15 AM EDT

Harvard University Faculty Members Annoyed With Secret Searches of 16 Resident Deans’ E-mail Accounts


Harvard University faculty members are annoyed with the management for searching the e-mail accounts of 16 resident deans in August to find out who leaked information about the student cheating scandal to the news media.

The faculty policy states that the administration can search a Harvard faculty e-mail account as part of an internal investigation, but must notify them prior or immediately after the search. However, in this case, the notification was given after around six months.

"I think what the administration did was creepy," Mary C. Waters, a sociology professor, told New York Times. "This action violates the trust I once had that Harvard would never do such a thing."

Last month, Harvard University had suspended 60 students and disciplined others who were involved in cheating of a final exam for an undergraduate politics course - Government 1310: 'Introduction to Congress.'

The issue came out in the open when a tutor in a spring semester noticed identical answers in an open book, take-home final exam of the course.

Once the scandal broke out, implicated students alleged that course's rules on collaboration were unclear, Bloomberg reported.

Harry R. Lewis, a professor and former dean of Harvard College, said that the search carried out by the administration is 'dishonorable' and this would in turn prompt the resident deans to exchange communication through their private e-mail accounts rather than the Harvard e-mail account.

Waters said that if resident deans' e-mail accounts were searched as the university considers them to be part of the staff, then mails of the president, provost and dean of the faculty should also be searched to find out who ordered this investigation.

Earlier, the administration also searched their e-mails to determine who had leaked an internal memo about how the deans should counsel students who are accused of cheating.

The resident deans at Harvard are appointed as lecturers; serve on various faculty bodies and essay the role as councilors for undergraduate students.

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