Letters to the Editor
The Tech received a copy of this letter regarding an interview which recently appeared in The Thistle. Additional copies were sent to The Thistle, Associate Dean for Student Affairs James R. Tewhey, and Beta Theta Pi.
The article that recently appeared in The Thistle did not accurately express my opinions. I feel that Joe Powers took my words out of context and twisted them. What I hoped to accomplish through the interview was to express an apology to the Betas, and to settle things down. Instead, because of Joe Powers' biased views, the situation has been agitated. He turned the article into an all-out attack on the Betas and the fraternity system in general by using information which I specifically asked be kept off the record. I'm not trying to cover my tracks -- I just want to present an accurate picture of the truth. Joe Powers promised to show me the article before it was printed; however, this never happened. I am a freshman at MIT and I had no idea that The Thistle was so slanted against fraternities, and I feel that they unjustly colored what I had to say.
Raymond Zayas '95
Athletics Head Supports Student Life Fee
As Director of Athletics at MIT for the past twelve years, I am excited to know that the Undergraduate Association is considering and gaining support for an undergraduate student life fee.
This concept has made enormous sense to me for some time, because it would allow all MIT undergraduates automatic access to all athletic facilities without going through the process of purchasing (or deciding not to purchase) an undergraduate MIT athletic card. A high percentage of our students do purchase the athletic card, but too many forget, decide to circumvent the system, or honestly cannot afford the out-of-pocket $20 cost. The potential and actual dishonesty created by the current system has been a fiscal and moral concern for many years. Hired security does attempt to check for cards, but we are putting our students in an unfortunate position when we tempt them to sneak or cheat.
The student life fee is a well-organized and practical concept that would enfranchise all MIT undergraduates to fully experience the wonderful opportunities of MIT intercollegiates, intramurals, club sports, physical education, and general recreation activities.
Royce N. Flippin, Jr.
Director of Athletics
Harassment Survey Biased but Meaningful
In a letter to the editor, ["Survey Skews Picture of Harassment at MIT," March 6] Courtney Moriarta offers two methodological criticisms of the Baker House and East Campus Survey on harassment. First, Moriarta contends that the survey lumps together trivial acts and serious acts as harassment and thereby grossly overstates the extent and seriousness of harassment within the MIT community. Second, Moriarta contends that because only 49 percent of those surveyed responded, the survey cannot produce "meaningful results." These points are incorrect.
The survey did not group trivial and serious acts together as harassment. To evaluate the consequences of incidents, it used each respondent's own evaluation of the impact of actions. The survey explicitly asked each respondent to assess the effects of the most serious incident that they experienced on a four point scale ranging from (1) "Not at All" to (4) "Very Much." To eliminate trivial incidents, consider only respondents who checked (3) and (4) on this four-point scale. 47 percent of women and 9 percent of men reported an incident that they found personally upsetting. 30 percent of women and 6 percent of men reported that an incident had created an intimidating, hostile, or offensive education, work, or living environment. 24 percent of women and 4 percent of men reported that an incident had interfered with their educational or work performance. When considered in conjunction with the personal comments of respondents, these numbers suggest strongly that women confront a more hostile and demeaning environment than do men.
Selection biases do not render these results meaningless. As the report notes, individuals who have personally experienced harassment and individuals with strong views on harassment policy are likely to be over-represented among the 56 percent of women and 43 percent of men returning questionnaires. However, selection biases cannot explain away differences between the experiences of men and women. If one were to go with the rather extreme assumption that all women who did not reply had experienced no incidents, then one would halve the percentages reported above. Unhappily, very substantial problems exist even if one were to go with this unrealistic adjustment for the maximum possible selection bias.
Finally, there seems to be some confusion on the intent and status of the survey. The survey does not define official MIT policy. It is nothing more or less than a snapshot of student attitudes towards and experiences of harassment. In some very important respects, official MIT policy is not the issue here. Our hope is simply that members of the MIT community will treat each other with greater decency. Courtney Moriarta expresses her hope that we can educate people to raise awareness and can set up support channels for those who feel they have been victimized. On that most central point we all agree.
Willa Michener and Kenneth Oye
Housemasters, East Campus
Elizabeth Smith '93
President, East Campus (1991-92)
Myra Harrison and William B. Watson
Housemasters, Baker House
Kenway Louie '93
President, Baker House (1991-92)
Lynn Albers '92
President, East Campus (1990-91)
Recently we have had a problem on campus concerning misleading publicity. The Chorallaries of MIT were victims of this false advertising regarding our Concert in Bad Taste. We would like to clarify the situation by announcing that the concert has not been cancelled and will still be held as originally scheduled, at 11:59 pm on Saturday, March 14 in room 10-250. We apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused and hope that this is an isolated incident.
Michael K. Daly '94
President, Chorallaries of MIT