Harassment book sent out
By Reuven M. Lerner
A booklet aimed at reducing harassment on campus is being distributed this week to all students, faculty and staff, according to Dean for Student Affairs Arthur C. Smith.
The booklet, Stopping Sexual Harassment: A Guide to Options and Resources at MIT, defines sexual harassment, suggests ways people may deal with harassment and lists people and organizations to which people can turn if they have questions or need help.
The booklet also includes examples of actual harassment cases "because the discussion about sexual harassment tends to become very abstract without examples," said Associate Provost for Educational Programs and Policy Samuel J. Keyser, who was involved in the production of the booklet.
The examples, Keyser said, were "brought to the attention of various people who have to deal with harassment on a day-to-day basis, ranging from the ombudspeople, to myself, to counselors in the dean's office, to consultants on harassment."
Mary P. Rowe, special assistant to the president and Institute ombudsman, called the booklet "wonderful" and added that "I have gotten calls all day . . . saying [people] think it's wonderful that the booklet is being sent out."
Other forms of harassment
addressed in booklet
Keyser said the book deals with "religious, ethnic and other" forms of harassment, in addition to sexual harassment. "I'm hoping that sensitivity to gay and lesbian harassment will be heightened," he said. He added that the booklet's title explicitly referred to sexual harassment because "We were responding to an initiative from the community to deal with sexual harassment. . . . Our hope was that this issue would provide us with a role model on how to deal with other issues, other forms of harassment."
The book is geared in part toward the "large number of people who say, `I've been harassed, and I don't know what to do about it,' " Smith said. The booklet, he explained, says "how do you proceed, how do you know if you've been harassed, how do you know if you've been harassing."
Keyser was encouraged by what he saw as a decline in the number of sexual harassment cases in the past few years. "It's a direct result of the attention
MIT has been paying to issues of harassment on campus," he explained, adding that "This year, the ombudspeople indicated that the numbers were cut in half to 500" inquiries, down from 1000 inquiries last year.
Rowe said MIT has had such brochures for the last 10 years, but that they "hadn't been as explicit and useful as this one." "This booklet is much longer and clearer," she added.
There had been some controversy over the booklet's assertion that there are many possible places to which people may turn for help if they believe they were harassed, Rowe said. While some would like "mandatory reporting to one office, most faculty and staff at MIT think that options are a good idea, and many feminists think options are a good idea," she explained.
Smith said booklets were mailed directly to all students, and should arrive sometime this week. A letter from Smith describing the booklet accompanied the mailing. "Students got a letter from me, I got a letter from the Provost. everyone got a letter from the senior officer in their division," he explained.
Anyone who has not received a copy of the booklet by the end of the week may obtain one from the information office in Building 7, Smith added. He said
that almost 20,000 copies were mailed, and some copies may arrive sooner than others.