Prior to “hundreds of alumni” writing a letter demanding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh be disallowed from teaching at Harvard University, undergraduates who opposed the judge had made formal complaints through the school’s Title IX office that his very presence amounted to sexual harassment.
The Harvard Crimson reports that student Jacqueline L. Kellogg, a senior, came up with the idea a few days ago and recruited others to join her in filing complaints against Kavanaugh. Kellogg even sent a letter detailing specifically how to file a formal complaint with Harvard’s Office for Dispute Resolution.
“By the time The Crimson reported late Monday that Kavanaugh had left his teaching position at the Law School, at least 48 students had signed an online petition certifying they had filed a Title IX complaint against the nominee,” the Crimson reported. “But at least one signatory said that not all of those who signed the petition had actually filed complaints as of Monday evening.”
Kellogg and fellow student Julia B. Wiener, also a senior, filed complaints claiming Kavanaugh’s presence on campus would create a “hostile environment” for women because of the uncorroborated and thin sexual assault allegations against him.
“Kellogg said she hopes students who have previously felt reluctant to file complaints with the University — whether related to Kavanaugh or to other experiences — will see that the formal process gives them ‘power’ and ‘a right to our feeling of being safe,” the Crimson wrote.
One Harvard Law professor, Jeannie Suk Gersen, who has written extensively on Title IX issues, said the student’s attempts to protest Kavanaugh through this avenue was “misplaced.”
“Such an abuse of process would undermine the legitimacy and credibility of complaints that the Title IX process is intended to deal with, as well as of the Title IX office to focus on its duties,” Suk Gersen wrote to the Crimson. “It might be effective in drawing further attention to some students’ objection to Kavanaugh’s teaching appointment, but I don’t expect him to be found to have violated Harvard University’s Sexual & Gender-Based Harassment Policy based on the currently known public allegations against him.”
Law professor Janet Halley also dismissed the strategy, telling the Crimson: “I urge the students to divert their energy from this implausible claim that he’s going to create a sexually hostile environment by teaching at the Law School to the really grand issue of whether he’s fit to be in his current judgeship or promoted to the Supreme Court.”
Kavanaugh has already withdrawn from teaching another course at Harvard, even though he has taught for more than a decade with mostly “glowing praise.”