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Harvard University administrators conducted a secret search through the emails of 16 deans last fall in order to find out who told the media about the school’s cheating scandal, but only just informed staff members of the investigation last Saturday.
According to the Boston Globe, the dean who was implicated in the leak was told of the search some time after it occurred, but the other 15 only learned of this invasion after they were approached by Boston Globe reporters to whom the administration had discussed the behind-the-scenes investigation.
The deans subjected to the search were all members of Harvard’s Administrative Board — the committee that handles cheating cases.
According to The New York Times, the dean identified in leaking Harvard’s cheating scandal had forwarded a message from the Administrative Board to a student, and the email eventually made it to the media. Staff members were unwilling to come forward to identify him to the press, although one dean stated that no one was punished for the incident.
While the deans told the Boston Globe that their emails were searched and filtered with the express purpose of finding this particular information, and the persons involved in the search were instructed to leave other correspondence alone, some voiced discomfort at the seeming breach of confidence stemming from the secretive nature of the search.
Former dean Harry Lewis told the Boston Globe, “If reading the deans’ email is really OK by the book, why didn’t they just ask the deans who leaked the memo, threatening to read their email if no one came forward? Why not tell them what was being done, if it was really an OK thing to do?”
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