Harassment survey results released
By Brian Rosenberg
Associate Provost Samuel J. Keyser presented a "road map" of resources available to victims of sexual harassment at the first faculty meeting of the academic year. Wednesday's meeting also addressed several other issues, including MIT's relations with international companies and foreign countries.
Stopping Sexual Harassment: A Guide to Options and Resources at MIT was written to address the "confusion about what victims and the accused could do" when harassment occurs, Keyser said at the meeting. The booklet, which became available last week, contains MIT's definition of harassment, a list of suggestions for dealing with harassment and a list of people and organizations to turn to for help.
The booklet stems from the final report of the Committee on Sexual Harassment, which was issued last October. Two female members of the committee wrote the first draft of the booklet, which then went through a year of editing "to fit the MIT context and actually reflect the Institute's response" to harassment, said Vice President Constantine B. Simonides '57. Simonides' office was responsible for producing the booklet.
level of harassment
At the meeting, Keyser released the results of a survey he distributed to 2700 faculty and staff members. He reported a response rate of 36 percent, or 994 people. Of those 994, 183 respondents said they had been involved in a harassment incident. Keyser reported that about half the reports were of gender- or sexually-based harassment, one-third were of general harassment and the remainder were of racial, ethnic or other forms of harassment.
Based on responses about how much time was spent dealing with the incidents, Keyser estimated that harassment costs MIT between $750,000 and $1 million per year, a figure which includes an estimated 2500 work hours lost as well as settlement and court costs.
Keyser also reported on harassment complaints received by the MIT ombudspeople, Mary P. Rowe and Clarence G. Williams. Between the summers of 1990 and 1991, Rowe and Williams received 776 complaints, 320 of which were sex-or gender-based.
A third survey focused exclusively on harassment of undergraduates. Prepared by the house governments of East Campus and Baker House, the survey focused on harassment between undergraduates and harassment from people in positions of authority, such as faculty members or teaching assistants. The survey asked if a student had "personally been subject" to a variety of harassing acts at MIT.
The preliminary report presented to the faculty includes 359 responses, or 49 percent of the Baker House and East Campus residents surveyed. Seventy-four percent of the undergraduate women who responded had received "unwanted teasing, jokes, remarks or questions of a sexual nature" from another student, and 12 percent had received similar remarks from someone in a position of authority. Thirteen percent of female respondents reported having been victims of an "actual or attempted rape or sexual assault" from a peer, and one individual reported such an incident from a person of authority. Other results are listed in the accompanying table.
The survey also asked how students responded to the incident or incidents. Fifty-four percent of the men and 51 percent of the women said they ignored the incident, while 24 and 62 percent, respectively, chose to avoid contact with the offender. Seven percent of the females filed a formal complaint with a member of the faculty or staff, as did two percent of the males.
Foreign relations examined
Professor of Political Science Eugene B. Skolnikoff '49 presented a report on MIT's relations with foreign companies and nations. Skolnikoff was chair of a faculty study group formed in response to widespread claims that universities on the whole and MIT in particular were responsible for the transferal of new technologies to other countries.
MIT's Industrial Liaison Program was the subject of especially strong criticism. Companies pay MIT to become members of ILP and receive tours and information relating to research and new developments here. About 25 percent of the ILP's members are Japanese and another 25 percent are European, Skolnikoff reported.
Skolnikoff's group set forth several general principles. First among them was the statement that MIT is "an integral part of the nation's education and research system." The Institute can best serve the country by retaining its "position as a premier institution in education and research in science and technology," the group reported. Maintaining that position requires interaction with the best research no matter where it is carried out, they decided.
The group also found that "MIT's responsibility to the nation mandates a strong interest in America's economic health," and that such responsibility could be best served by an increased effort to transfer knowledge to American industries.
President Charles M. Vest updated the faculty on several issues facing MIT. He presented what he called "good news" on the administration's opposition to the current Department of Defense policy preventing homosexuals from serving in the armed forces, including the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. Vest cited a "leaked DOD report that says there is no identifiable security risk associated with having homosexuals serve."
Vest also said MIT attorneys are meeting with Justice Department representatives to plan the nature of MIT's trial for participation in the Overlap Group, a collection of colleges and universities that met annually to discuss financial aid packages for students admitted to more than one member school. The trial is scheduled for April, Vest reported.
He also commented on a new set of guidelines for allowed indirect cost expenses released by the Office of Management and Budget. Indirect spending by universities has been the focus of investigation for more than a year.
Provost Mark S. Wrighton reported that staff from the Office for Undergraduate Education and the provost's office will meet over the next six to eight weeks to discuss changes in the OUE following the death of Margaret L. A. Macvicar '65 Sept. 30. MacVicar had been Dean for Undergraduate Education.
Additionally, the faculty moved to abolish the meeting to recommend awarding degrees, traditionally held a few days before graduation. A meeting will now be held only in the event of an unusual or disputed recommendation.