It's probably safe to say that there weren't any winners in Harvard's recent cheating scandal, but the list of losers just keeps growing. The school's 16 resident deans are the latest unlucky bunch to find themselves involved. This weekend, The Boston Globe reported that the university secretly accessed the deans' emails while looking for the source of information that was leaked during last year's cheating scandal. They found him, too! The administration contacted one of the deans to let him know how a confidential email he'd sent to a student made its way to The Harvard Crimson and, eventually, the national media. He was not punished.
The cheating scandal is otherwise over and done. Around 70 students were forced to withdraw earlier this semester and take six months time off before returning to finish their degrees. The school was thoroughly embarrassed by the whole incident. It's a bummer for any school to catch a student cheating, but when you're the top school in the country and catch dozens cheating at once, it's downright embarrassing. And now it looks like Harvard gets to be embarrassed all over again for violating its own employees' privacy. As The Globe points out, Harvard protects the privacy of Harvard professors' electronic communications, but it's unclear if administrators violated any policy since deans are not professors.
The university's stayed quiet about the whole affair so far, offering only an evasive statement as explanation. One part focused on how important it was to take care of the disciplinary process: "Harvard College would take all necessary and appropriate actions under our procedures to safeguard the integrity of that process, which is designed to protect the rights of our students to privacy and due process." Deans, however, must have different rights.