Harassment report offers guidelines
By Lakshmana Rao
The MIT Committee on Sexual Harassment released its report last week, offering detailed guidelines to members of the MIT community on how to report cases of sexual harassment.
These guidelines, which the report calls "road maps," illustrate several ways by which cases of sexual harassment might be identified.
The committee was appointed last November by former Provost John M. Deutch '61 to "consider possible modifications to the Institute's policy on harassment" and to "propose steps to reduce the occurrence of sexual harassment on campus."
Associate Provost Samuel J. Keyser chaired the committee, which had representatives from the Academic Council, faculty, administration and staff, as well as post-doctoral fellows and students.
The report notes that "a significant part of the problem at MIT is lack of knowledge, not only about what mechanisms currently exist to deal with sexual harassment, but also about the existence of sexual harassment in the first place."
According to Mary P. Rowe, special assistant to the president and a member of the committee, "The number of harassment cases of all types at MIT significantly increased in the mid-1980s, and is quite high for an institution of this nature."
Road maps offer
a list of options
The road maps outline options that are available to the general community, as well as specific options for students, post-doctoral fellows, faculty, staff members and employees represented by a union.
For students, these specific options include reporting to a housemaster, faculty advisor, ombudsperson, department head, the Committee on Discipline or the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs.
The report adds that affected people may pursue complaints through informal procedures, mediation or investigative procedures.
The report recommends that specific guidelines on how to deal with harassment, including sexual harassment, be given to people who might receive complaints. It further recommends that those people receive "appropriate training commensurate with the procedures relevant to their responsibilities and be accountable for these responsibilities."
A memorandum sent to the Academic Council by former President Paul E. Gray '54 on Oct. 12 said that "the only way to make sure that the MIT community is free of harassment of any kind is to have each senior officer and each supervisor, both academic and administrative, insist that MIT's policies and programs are implemented in his or her area." This memorandum has been endorsed by President Charles M. Vest, who took office on Oct. 15.
In an earlier memorandum to Keyser, Deutch outlined eight priority steps regarding the implementation of the report's recommendations. These steps include incorporation of the proposed policies into the general policies and procedures; initiation of discussion on the topic for students, faculty and staff; dissemination of road maps on handling complaints of harassment; and soliciting views about the report from the Undergraduate Association, Graduate Student Council and post-doctoral groups.
"These action plans will be discussed for formal endorsement" in the near future, Keyser said.
The report will be reprinted as a supplement in Tech Talk, and additional copies will be available at library reserve desks and on Project Athena, he added.