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Keyser compiles harassment report

By Annabelle Boyd

In response to concerns about harassment on the MIT campus, the Associate Provost's Office is compiling a report which will detail by category the formal harassment complaints issued in each department over the past year, according to Associate Provost S. Jay Keyser.

In addition, the Committee on Sexual Harassment at MIT has been formed to evaluate the strengths and deficiencies of current MIT harassment policy.

According to Keyser, the purpose of the report on harassment at MIT is twofold. First, it will act as a means of raising awareness within the MIT community about the types of harassment which occur on campus. Second, it will provide data which can be used by the new sexual harassment committee and other groups to evaluate the current MIT harassment policy. Presently, no data on harassment at MIT is made public to the MIT community.

Keyser maintains that the key focus of the report is not the harassment statistics which will be generated, but the rational analysis of those statistics. Since department heads and deans can only turn in the harassment complaints of which they have some record, the harassment statistics alone will not be an accurate account of harassment at MIT.

"My worry is that these statistics are inherently misleading since many cases of harassment are not reported," Keyser said. Therefore, the statistics will be used more to "inform the MIT community" and less as a "basis for policy."

The Committee on Sexual Harassment at MIT has been created not just to study how harassment affects women, but also how it affects gays, lesbians, ethnic and religious groups at MIT. In addition, the current penalties for harassment will be examined.

According to Keyser, the committee's ultimate aim is to investigate a policy which would safeguard the cultural and intellectual differences within the MIT campus from the negative impact of harassment.

"MIT has a diverse community, both in terms of culture and in differences of opinion. When you have such a complex culture, in an Institute whose place it is to expose conflicting ideas, you need to make sure that you have a humane and sensitive environment," he said.