As I mentioned in a previous post, this semester my business law students are playing a role immersion game based on a hacking incident that occurred at Harvard in the fall of 2003, when Harvard sophomore Mark Zuckerberg created a clandestine website called Facemash that allowed users to rank the hotness of co-eds at Harvard. In our first class, students were randomly assigned into roles (e.g., presiding officers, campus and town media outlets, and anti-Facemash, pro-Facemash, and wild card groups), and each group was given a role sheet outlining that group’s objectives, along with some recommend reading. Then in our second class, my students re-enacted an emergency meeting of the Harvard Undergrad Council and debated whether Facemash was a harmless prank or whether Zuckerberg broke any laws (circa 2003) or moral duties when he built Facemash. (In real life, Zuckerberg was “adboarded” by Harvard and either admonished or put on probation, but lucky for him, he was not sued or criminally prosecuted for his role in the Facemash hacking incident.)
In our next class, my students will re-enact a faculty tea at Harvard Law School and will debate some procedural aspects of the disciplinary process at Harvard. Specifically, my students will play Harvard law professors (each student group was already assigned a “faculty advisor” from the law school), and they will debate whether the ad board process (circa 2003) is fair or not, especially in cases involving allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault. (Because Facemash allowed users to rank women based on their appearance, one could argue that the Facemash prank contributed, even in a small way, to a hostile environment on campus.) Among other things, the law professors will debate the following due process issues:
- What types of cases should the Ad Board hear? Should allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment be left to the courts?
- Are the procedures of the Ad Board fair and consistent with due process? If not, what due process rights should students have when they are accused of misconduct? In particular, what burden of proof should the Ad Board use in cases involving student misconduct?
- Should Harvard University prepare an anti-sexual harassment policy, and if so, how narrowly or broadly should “sexual harassment” be defined?