Wolff Suit SettledBy Sarah Y. Keightley
Provost Mark S. Wrighton recently announced the resolution of Professor of Literature Cynthia G. Wolff's lawsuit against MIT. The parties have agreed to the following joint statement:
"Professor Wolff and MIT have reached an agreement to resolve the action brought by Professor Wolff and have agreed not to disclose the terms of that agreement. The parties believe that a resolution at this time is in the best interests of MIT and the individuals involved, before the need to determine the merits of the action and in order to move forward as a community. The fact that a resolution was reached, therefore, does not mean that either party attributes blame or concedes merit to the other's position."
Wrighton refused to comment beyond this publicly-released statement, and neither Wolff nor her lawyer could be reached yesterday.
In the suit, which was filed last April, Wolff charged that MIT had allowed a "hostile work environment" to continue by permitting a "persistent and continuing pattern of professional, political, and sexual harassment . . . in the workplace."
The suit alleged other professors in the literature section isolated Wolff because of her stance on particular personnel decisions. When she reported this to the administration, they failed to act, she said.
Wolff also said in the suit that Professor David M. Halperin had harassed another professor. "For me, the whole affair won't be over until I find a way of clearing my name," Halperin said last night.
"I do have a lawyer, and we're reserving all options," he said.
"MIT's lack of a formal Institute-wide grievance procedure for handling sexual harassment enables charges and counter charges to be used for partisan political purposes by faculty who are fighting with one another," Halperin said. "The exploitation of sexual harassment for partisan political purposes, used in these cases to damage the reputation of one's enemies, is a shocking trivialization of a very serious issue."
Halperin stressed this "points to the need for a strong and consistent Institute-wide procedure" for dealing with sexual harassment.