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Open investigations on sexual misconduct and retaliation against a Dartmouth grad student

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To President Hanlon, Title IX Office, and Dean of the Faculty,

We are calling the College to open a thorough investigation on the sexual misconduct and retaliation complaints from Maha Hasan Alshawi, a Ph.D. student in the computer science department. Title IX Office only assessed Maha’s first complaint that she filed on February 5 about two incidents that her advisor, Quattrini Li, sexually harassed her and claimed that there was not enough evidence of sexual harassment, including not enough complaints and not enough victims against the same individual, to start an investigation. There was no evidence that both parties involved were called for the assessment and no other students and faculty in the department were questioned about her case. The Title IX Office did not provide a procedure to protect Maha during and after the assessment; this later on led to multiple retaliatory academic actions against her from other faculty including the department chair and PhD program director in the computer science department during the winter and spring terms. On April 9, Maha complained and reported these retaliations to the Title IX Office and Dean of the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, Professor Jon Kull, who handed the case over to Professor Dan Rockmore, Associate Dean of the Faculty for the Sciences. Again, her complaint about the retaliations she received from other faculty got turned down by Dean Rockmore without any explanation or evidence that an investigation had been undertaken fairly. Even worse, when the College got interviewed by The Dartmouth on June 22 regarding the investigation on Maha’s case, the Vice President of Communications lied, stating that the College asked Maha for consent to release evidence of Dartmouth’s response to Maha, while Maha did not get contacted by the College regarding sharing her case. Meanwhile, Maha has to rely on social media platforms to publicize her case and ask for help in seeking justice.

We are disappointed by the actions taken from the Title IX Office and Associate Dean of the Faculty for the Sciences and demand the College to open a fair investigation where not only all parties involved are called upon, but a third party and representatives from the student and faculty body are also involved. We are angry that no action has been undertaken to prevent retaliations against victims like Maha as she spoke up and filed her first complaint on sexual harassment incidents that she faced. We are upset that no faculty in computer science has spoken up to protect Maha and offer to serve as her faculty advisor as she left Dr. Quattrini Li’s lab. Similarly, we are agitated that the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies has done nothing to support and protect her as their roles are supposed to serve and support all the graduate students at Dartmouth. We are afraid that as the College will continue to remain silent, more abuse of power, discrimination, retaliation, and harassment will continue to target Dartmouth students, especially our black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) students. 

It is imperative that Maha receives due process and a thorough investigation into her well-documented and well-supported complaints. Failure to consider her evidence is in direct violation of Title IX, which guarantees her equal protection under the law to her supervisors; furthermore, failure to take immediate action in amending these injustices is a threat to Maha’s life due to the hunger strike she has undertaken in protest of this unfair treatment. Claiming that this is not the responsibility of the Title IX office or the administrators who oversee harassment complaints ignores the exhaustive way in which Maha has already protested this issue. At this point in time, Maha has gone through every conceivable outlet in the College in an attempt to receive this due process to no avail. Therefore, by standing in solidarity and vocalizing our support for her, we hope to spur the university to act in accordance with its own policies and investigate these complaints in an open and fair way.

By signing this petition, we stand in solidarity with Maha, who began a hunger strike on July 14th to protest this injustice, and to demand a fair investigation. Each day that goes by without recourse marks a threat to Maha’s life. We call for the College to take immediate actions including opening the investigation with third party and student body involvement that provides support to Maha.

Details of her case have been documented by The Dartmouth in this piece: https://www.thedartmouth.com/article/2020/06/student-alleges-harassment-retaliatory-action-from-cosc-faculty-members as well as in this letter that she sent out to the Title IX Office and all the department chairs as well as to computer science faculty on June 12 https://gofile.io/d/WieK3K. Maha is also updating how the school responds to her case and her current conditions as she is on the hunger strike at her own facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/maha.hasan.35762241   

We will keep updates from her case and our advocacy efforts the last few days, from our walkout, sit-in, to the march downtown Hanover today via this twitter @justiceformaha and this instagram account @justice4mahahasan, along with Maha's posts on her on facebook.



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