Rowe, otheres help harassedTo the Editor:
I am a Christian woman who has been sexually harassed by a professor at MIT. I know two other MIT Christian women who were also harassed and I hope they will permit me to speak for them. Between the three of us, we represented the three prominent Christian organizations at MIT.
I am deeply distressed by the characteristics of Mary Rowe that were outlined in your letter, Miss Nagle. I must admit that I had no idea these were her opinions, but despite my general positiveness towards her as a person who helped me, I, a conservative, too, agree with your morals and conclusions and not those which you stated were hers. Nevertheless, I must speak out in favor of what she and other people in the MIT administration are doing for men and women who have been sexually harassed.
When I approached Mary Rowe about my particular situation, the first thing she made clear to me was that I could remain anonymous. So Miss "A" I became with much relief. Furthermore, she did not need to know the name of the offending professor, who then became Professor "B." This took off a lot of the pressure that I was feeling at the time because like most sexually harassed individuals, I was extremely confused (and felt that somehow I had caused the whole thing) and I did not want anyone to know this was happening to me.
(The reason names are not necessary is that in most cases the recommendation is for the offended individual to write a simple three paragraph letter to the offending professor or person. The first paragraph describes the facts of the sexual harassment ("You did this, then I did this" -- what a videotape would show). The second enumerates what the resulting feelings are ("That made me feel..."). And finally, the third paragraph states simply, "Please stop." Usually, this type of letter does stop the situation).
Mary Rowe took time via the telephone and face-to-face meetings to let me know, despite how dirty I felt, that I was a worthwhile person and in fact, I was not guilty. Professor "B" was offering me a thesis if, in return, I granted him sexual favors. After much turmoil, I declined the offer. He twisted my words in a very hypnotic manner making me say what I did not mean. It is extremely difficult for me to express briefly how emotionally distraught I was because of this.
I did not feel that Mary Rowe was imposing any moral opinion on me other than the one which states that the type of situation in which I was (commonly referred to as a "conflict of interest"), should not happen and should be stopped as soon as possible. (I felt comfortable enough with Mary Rowe to refer Miss "X" and Miss "Y" to her). My particular case was dealt with quietly, quickly, and efficiently. The one of Miss "X" (my first friend) was as well. Unfortunately, Miss "Y" never felt comfortable writing the letter (because of a fear of a lowered grade) and as Mary Rowe would not force her to do so, the situation was never resolved in a positive way other than avoidance of the professor (and hence, the class).
Now, I have to admit, being an alumna, I have not been within hearing range of MIT's method of dealing with sexual harassment over the past term. But, from my (albeit) limited exposure, I can say that at least they've dealt with these three instances in a quiet manner. If, in fact, their trumpeting of the situation is to make people aware of the possible occurrence of sexual harassment and not specific instances, then I am for it since it was in that way that I was brought to end my situation.
Miss Nagle, I urge you to rejoin the Women's Advisory Group just so that the conservative vote will be represented. God calls us to be transformed by Christ in the world and thus to fight for His truth, not to be conformed by the world and let Satan win by not standing up for what is truly right.
To men and women who are being sexually harassed (or think they are), TELL SOMEONE! If you are uncomfortable with Mary Rowe because of Miss Nagle's letter, there are other people in the administration who can help you. Or tell a friend, tell your Bible Study leader, call Nightline, tell someone. It helps to clarify the situation. Also, then there is someone to back you up if grade problems occur. Additionally, if someone else knows and things get worse, someone with a clear mind can help you set things straight, comfort you, and support you. Please do not hold it in -- I do not want you to hurt as I did.
Beverly Farris Williams '84->