The Herald‘s Investigation into Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Alleged Sexual Misconduct on Campus
On Friday, April 6, 2018, the Herald published the results of its three-month long investigation into the campus culture surrounding sexual assault and Title IX reporting at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. There are six articles and one Op-ed, which are part of the series written by The Herald News Team.
The process in completing this issue included many hours of interviews, combing through documents, and reporting incidents on campus as a means to institute a discussion within the student body and among faculty and staff on the nature of how our campus deals with sexual violence and harassment. There were interviews with faculty, staff, students, and survivors of sexual assault on the campus. The News Team also read laws and policies, dug through reports and statistics, and synthesized all of the information into cohesive pieces for the wider campus community.
We have taken great pains to ensure that all journalistic standards were adhered to in the creation and publication of this issue: our sources were fact-checked and the issue was reviewed by our editorial staff along with an independent committee comprising of people with years of professional journalism and writing experience.
We are not aiming to provoke firings or personnel changes, or to spread falsities and rumors heard on campus, but rather to start a discussion and bringing about institutional change regarding how we, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, deal with issues of sexual violence and assault.
For the final steps of the investigation, before publishing, the Herald was aided by an independent Review Team formed specifically for this issue and the Title IX investigation. Comprised of individuals with experience and expertise in writing and journalism, with combined decades of experience, the Review Team was the final step in the process for the Herald‘s investigation.
This work continues the trend from recent issues of the Herald to investigate issues that are important to the student body.
It has been nearly four years since The New York Times article. We are hoping to avoid a repeat of that, which is why the Herald has been investigating independently this semester.
We hope that you will both read and share this edition of the Herald and help contribute to our goal of a better campus culture around sexual violence and harassment.
President Gregory J. Vincent’s Alleged Plagiarism on Graduate School Dissertation
On Wednesday, March 28, The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article alleging that Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ President, Gregory J. Vincent ’77, had plagiarized large passages of his dissertation when obtaining his doctorate in education degree from the University of Pennsylvania. The report came from an anonymous tip, submitted via email, which outlined six distinct instances of large form plagiarism in the first third of the dissertation.
Immediately, the Herald sprang into action. Staff writer Ryan Skinner emailed Editor-in-Chief Alex Kerai, who was already liaising with the Editorial Team, about writing a piece on President Vincent’s alleged plagiarism. Within 48 hours, Kerai and the Herald had obtained both the dissertation and the anonymous email and began to verify the plagiarism claims. By Friday night, four of the six claims had been verified by Skinner.
Over the weekend, Skinner worked to verify the rest of the claims and on Tuesday he traveled to Cornell University and verified all six of the claims made in the anonymous email – plus claims that were not there! As Ryan wrote: “it appears that in at least fifty-four sentences, President Vincent failed to indicate that he was copying other scholars word for word.”
The article was fruitful in learning more about the issue at hand and writing about it to educate the student body. The Herald also received an exclusive statement from President Vincent where he, for the first time, publicly addressed the allegations.
A week later, on Friday April 13, 2018, President Gregory Vincent resigned as President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. The decision was delivered to the Board of Trustees and was effective immediately. Professor Emeritus Pat McGuire L.H.D. ’12 serves as Interim President.
Other Spring Investigations:
During the Spring 2018 semester, the Herald published multiple investigations into Sodexo (the food provider on campus), the College Store’s rebranding and possibly move, and accessibility and inclusivity at HWS. This has been part of the Herald‘s renewed mission to be a voice for the students of HWS and provide illuminating insight into issues at Hobart and William Smith. The goal is to galvanize students to take action, and to understand issues that are going on under the surface of the Colleges.
All of the articles are well sourced and fact checked before publication. The Herald strives for impartiality and aims to provide readers with all viewpoints in each article.