Letters to the EditorYour story ["Wolff Claims Harrassment By Literature Professors," April 28.] about Professor Cynthia G. Wolff's lawsuit against MIT repeats an allegation made by Wolff that my colleague, Professor Theoharis C. Theoharis, told Wolff that I was sexually harassing him. Although I was interviewed for the story, your reporter had not read the text of the lawsuit at the time she spoke to me and did not give me a chance to deny the accusation of sexual harassment.
I do so now. It is false. I have never subjected Theoharis to sexual harassment. Nor has any formal complaint of sexual harassment ever been made against me, so far as I am aware, in all my 20 years of academic life.
I'd like to take this opportunity to assure my students and friends at MIT that I do not intend to allow this unsubstantiated accusation to deter me from working to end sexual harassment at MIT, from engaging in political activism at MIT on behalf of women, gays, lesbians, and minorities, from continuing to teach classes in Lesbian and Gay Studies, or from carrying out my research into the logic and structure of sexual discourse.
David M. Halperin
Professor of Literature
Thistle Article Unwarranted
I categorically disagree with the recent characterization of Counterpoint made by Jeffrey L. Newbern '95 and apparently endorsed by The Thistle. His bizarre article is the result of an unethical, adversarial, and incomplete investigation, and the myopic picture he presents only serves to aggrandize his esoteric political ideology. The prominent appearance of such a skewed viewpoint in the May 6 issue of The Thistle is typical of that journal's dissemination of extremist propaganda.
Newbern approached a staff member of Counterpoint some time ago for assistance in improving the management of The Thistle's fund-raising and accounting activities. When we accepted his request for help and offered to explain our fitful start-up process, Newbern revealed his true intentions to our staff.
With limited facts in one hand and a political objective in the other, and with his tunnel-vision of self-importance quite focused, Newbern launched an attack of inspired innuendo against the lured staff member through electronic mail. Newbern's disingenuous nature evident, the attack was quite rightly spurned and we politely declined his requests for further help.
Furious at being dismissed and convinced that his rejection was for more than his naive yet serious insolence, Newbern sent off a second wave of anger, accusing our magazine of attempting a cover-up and demanding answers to his set of now even more adversarial questions. I, strained by past dealings with The Thistle and its minion, continued nonetheless the forced politeness and declined. But intrepid as ever, Newbern continued his barrage. Finally irritated, I informed Newbern that I would no longer tolerate the harassment and proceeded to takes steps in that direction.
Of course, Newbern didn't stop. By then he seemed committed to the idea that Counterpoint stood as antithetical to his own ideology, and decided to harangue the staff through e-mail. This produced no results, as we had taken steps by then to discourage contact with Newbern and his colleagues.
You see, Counterpoint has no responsibility to justify itself to unethical fools who masquerade their true intentions. We reject this approach to journalism as a matter of principle. As we strive to establish ourselves in the MIT and Wellesley College communities, we are of course happy to discuss any aspect of our organization with anyone willing to listen to what we have to say. But for now we politely decline the eager invitation to engage in babble with The Thistle and especially Newbern.
Avik S. Roy '93
Counterpoint Not Responsible for Review
The Tech received a copy of this letter addressed to Jeff L. Newbern '95.
I was fascinated to learn from your piece in Wednesday's Thistle, "Counterpoint Exposed as Analyst," that because Counterpoint has accepted money from an outside source, the Madison Center, which has funded the Dartmouth Review, Counterpoint and its staffers are responsible for the Review's content. Both Counterpoint and the Thistle have accepted money from the Undergraduate Association Finance Board. Does this mean that the Thistle is responsible for Counterpoint's views? Does this mean that the Thistle is also part of the evil Madison Center conspiracy? Or is it just that the Thistle envies Counterpoint's source of funds?
I was also intrigued by your attempt to smear Counterpoint by citing associations of people on its list of contributors. The list contains every person who has ever written an article for Counterpoint, most of whom are not on the staff. One of these is listed because of her article supporting freedom of choice on abortion, an article which was reprinted in your publication. I am also on the list of contributors, for an article on how the MIT harassment policy violates freedom of speech. The Thistle has published letters from me twice, one being a very politically incorrect satire and another expressing my concern with the harassment policy's free speech issues. Does this make you and other Thistle staffers tools of the Analyst or the Collegiate Network? I have sent this letter to The Tech, which has printed my letters on four previous occasions. Does that mean that all of the campus publications are an organized right-wing conspiracy?
You complain that Avik S. Roy '93 silenced you using the "vagueness" of MIT's harassment policy, yet you have publicly advocated that the policy be applied to others. Why this hypocrisy? Why isn't what's good for them good for you? Perhaps Roy was just giving you a taste of your own medicine. You assert that Counterpoint, and other publications like it, have opposed "strong harassment policies," but you produce no evidence. The only criticisms of the policy in the pages of Counterpoint have been written by outsiders, Adam L. Dershowitz G and myself, both of which focused on its vagueness and the way it can be used to chill discussion, abuses of which your article complained. Neither called for a weak policy.
It's sad you fear Counterpoint so much you have to vilify it in print. Its funding from the Madison Center gives it no power to control you. It will have to compete with you in the marketplace of ideas, and if you lose it will be your own fault.
Lars Bader G
Activism Cannot Replace Justice
Rodney King was beaten excessively and savagely; that is a conclusion which is difficult to avoid if one watches the videotape of his beating. By my standards this constitutes wrongdoing and the wrongdoers should be brought to justice. However, I am equally frightened by the reaction of some people to the verdict as I am by the obvious lack of justice the trial allowed.
It is not the riots in Los Angeles which frightened me most, despite the fact I have to move there in three weeks. While I feel the death and destruction caused by the rioters is wrong, I can at least understand the need of the people in South Central Los Angeles to let off a loud roar so those in power will know of their outrage. I especially applaud Dale L. Le Febvre '93 and other organizers of Monday's silent protest as far as they attempted to make their outrage known through a more noble media.
Rather, it's comments like "I hope the government realizes what we're doing here and reverses the [King] decision" ["Walk To Common Prompted By Verdict," May 5.] which make me shudder. Yes, I hope the "government" takes note. Yes, I hope that the pending Federal re-investigation of the King trial brings the four LA policemen to justice. But I worry when the language of protesters and rioters degenerates into talk of preempting our justice system by activism.
I want those policemen brought to justice, but I want it done through the legal system despite the system's flaws. If the re-investigation convicts the policemen according to current laws, fine. If the re-investigation cannot convict the policemen with current laws, then the laws need to be changed. Government does not need to bow to pressure from rioters and activists when judging legal matters; isn't that why the Constitution provided for non-elected Supreme Court justices? Instead, the government should to adjust its laws according to what the population deems "right."
I seriously doubt that the four policemen can escape a Federal re-investigation without at least one man being convicted; there is simply too much political pressure involved. In the King case, this would seem to be justice. However, I hope that justice is what becomes generalized in our legal system and not coercion by politics.
Focusing on reconstructing the legal system will prove vastly more productive than focusing on reconstructing individual verdicts. All future silent (or not-so-silent) marchers: please keep this in mind.
Christopher E. Couch '92
End-of-Term Rules Will Relieve Stress
With finals just around the corner, the Undergraduate Association Committee on Educational Policy feels that every faculty member and student should be aware of the faculty end-of-term regulations. Below is an excerpt from the 1991-92 MIT Bulletin regarding these regulations, which are meant to relieve some of the stresses associated with the end of the term. If a violation of any of these regulations occurs, feel free to contact us using the SCEP hotline (scep@athena).
The following Faculty Regulations governing end-of-term examinations and assignments, together with the Faculty Policy Committee's interpretation, apply to both undergraduate and graduate subjects:
* For each subject that has a final exam, no examination may be given and no assignment, term paper, or oral presentation may fall due during the six days preceding Reading Period. The scheduled time for a final exam cannot be changed once it has been officially published; inquiries about limited exceptions to this policy should be directed promptly to the registrar.
* Each subject in which no final exam is given may have at most one of the following during the six days preceding Reading Period: either a one-hour quiz may be given during a regularly scheduled class period or one assignment (term paper, lab report, take-home exam, problem set, or oral presentation) may fall due. (A 90-minute quiz is allowed, but only if done during a regular class period.)
* It is inappropriate for comprehensive examinations (covering most of the term's work) to be given at any time other than during the final exam period.
* No classes, examinations, or exercises of any kind amy be scheduled beyond the end of the last regularly scheduled class in a subject, except for final exams scheduled through the Registrar's Office. Any formal reviews of subjects should be held during regular class periods, but this rule does not exclude the possibility of sessions after the last days of classes at which the instructing staff is available to answer questions of students who choose to attend. (The architecture design reviews that occur during finals week are considered to be equivalent to final exams and are scheduled by the Department of Architecture.)
* No assignment of any kind may be given that falls due after the last regularly scheduled meeting of the class for that subject. This does not prevent an instructor from giving an extension to an individual student, but an extension shall not need to be given to a majority of the class.
* Any departure from these rules requires the permission of the Committee on Academic Performance for undergraduate students or the Committee on Graduate School Performance for graduate students, and any such approved exception will be announced early in the term and emphasized appropriately. Asking students to vote on some deviation from the rules is not an acceptable procedure.
Faculty or students with questions regarding the interpretation or application of any of these provisions should contact the Chairman of the Faculty or request the assistance of the CAP, Room 7-104, 253-4164."
Keelan K. Yang '94
Chair, UA Committee on Educational Policy-
Blacks Face Discrimination
Three weeks ago, photocopied signs appeared in the elevator, walls, and bulletin boards of Buildings N51 and N52, which house the architecture department and the MIT Museum. These signs warned that thefts of personal property had occurred and that "suspicious individuals" should be reported.
At MIT we have affectionately developed a universally understood jargon such as "infinite" to describe corridors, "tool" to describe studying, and "hack" to describe perpetrating a prank. But when signs alert us to be cautious of "suspicious individuals," what it is that we read is "African-American individuals."
Two weeks ago, one of my classes was interrupted when two MIT campus police officers entered my third-floor classroom in N51 and asked if anyone knew knowledge of a person who was asleep somewhere. I found it peculiar that police officers would investigate the high crime of sleeping, but thought that the sleeping person might be the victim of some sort of medical emergency. I offered my assistance to the officers by showing them to the lounge area of N52 where a sofa was located. The suspect was asleep on that sofa. One of the officers administered a kinder and gentler prod, awakening the suspect to a thousand points of light. To my surprise, this turned out to be one of my students. She was the victim of the medical emergency of being an African-American.
Recent court rulings have deemed it legal for a mob of police officers to mercilessly bludgeon those suspected of a crime. This sort of blatant violence can be sanctioned only when there is a universally understood jargon which translates "African-American" as criminal.
Professor of Art
Minority Preferences Unfair
As a member of the MIT Equal Opportunity Committee, I would like to express my concern about certain minority preference policies at the Institute. MIT classifies certain minority groups -- African-Americans (regardless of national origin), Native Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans -- as "underrepresented." This policy excludes Asians and members of 16 Hispanic minorities. Members of these other minority groups face the same obstacles and prejudices, but cannot benefit from the opportunities set aside for those considered "underrepresented." Among those opportunities exclusively for the "underrepresented" groups are the Second Summer Program, Program Interphase, and MITES.
This policy appears to be discriminatory to other disadvantaged minorities groups and undermines the goal of providing everyone, regardless of race, color, or creed, an equal opportunity. I would like very much for the MIT administration to bring about an inquiry into the fairness of this "underrepresented" policy
Esteban R. Torres G