College names external investigator for graduate student’s harassment claims

by The Dartmouth Senior Staff | 8/6/20 8:05pm

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by Naina Bhalla / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

Updated August 6, 2020 at 9:20 p.m.

Updated August 6, 2020 at 8:30 p.m.

The College has selected the external investigator who will review the harassment allegations graduate student Maha Hasan Alshawi has brought against two computer science professors.

Attorney Maureen Holland, who has served as an interim Title IX coordinator at Baylor University and has investigated sexual harassment claims at various higher education institutions, most recently with the law firm Cozen O’Connor, will investigate the allegations. 

"The investigator has been in contact with Maha, and so the investigation is underway," College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote in an email statement. 

Alshawi confirmed via Facebook that she had been contacted by Holland, but only after the initial publication of this article.

Following this article’s publication, Alshawi wrote on Facebook that Holland had not contacted her, nor had the College been in touch with her about the investigator. She expressed frustration that she was learning who the external investigator was from the press.

Two minutes after her post, Alshawi wrote that she had “just received an email” from Holland.

The Dartmouth has not yet confirmed when Holland contacted Alshawi.

On Tuesday, the College announced that it would conduct an external investigation into Alshawi’s claims.   

Following the announcement, Alshawi, who has entered the fourth week of her hunger strike, wrote on Facebook that she would stop drinking water in addition to her hunger strike until the College’s investigation officially launched. 

Dartmouth maintains that Alshawi’s claims have already undergone the normal Title IX review process. The external investigation is in addition to the “extensive assessment and multiple reviews” the College has taken, according to a press statement. 

“Ms. Alshawi’s complaints were reviewed and assessed earlier this year, at her request and in accordance with established policies and procedures, by our Title IX office, the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, the Department of Safety and Security, the Office of the Dean of the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, and the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity,” the College wrote in a statement on July 24.

The College previously offered to investigate Alshawi’s claims a week into her strike, but she refused, citing preconditions to the offer that required she end her strike and seek medical attention.

Alshawi has not responded to requests for comments since Wednesday evening, but Attiya Khan ’22, a supporter of Alshawi, says she has been in contact with Alshawi throughout Thursday and that an update from her is forthcoming.

Lawrence wrote that Dartmouth “will have no further comment on Ms. Alshawi’s case” until the investigation is closed and its findings are published.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.