Harvard Administrators Admit to More Email Searches

Administrators apologized to the faculty Tuesday.

Harvard administrators admitted that their search of resident deans’ email accounts last fall, which angered the faculty when it became public last month, was actually broader than first acknowledged. Harvard President Drew Faust also apologized to faculty for the way the administration handled notification about the searches.

Harvard College Dean Evelynn Hammonds said at a faculty meeting that she authorized a search of two e-mail ­accounts belonging to the resident dean who had forwarded a confidential message about last year’s cheating scandal, reports the Boston Globe. The administration was looking to see whether the dean had corresponded with two Harvard Crimson reporters who reported on the confidential message. Previously, administrators said they had searched only the resident deans’ administrative email accounts and only for subject lines. Hammonds said her story changed because of “my failure to recollect the additional searches.” while Hammonds said she deeply regretted the poor notification.

Faust noted at the meeting that “different choices should have been made,” (Passive voice!) “It constitutes a significant institutional failure to provide adequate guidance and direction in a digital environment that is a powerful and rapidly changing force in all our lives,” Faust told the faculty, according to Bloomberg News. “We need clear, visible, and well-articulated polices and processes.”

Faust said she’ll create a task force to look into policies on e-mail privacy and will ask a lawyer to verify information about the previous searches.