Letters to the EditorLast July, my husband, James R. Tewhey, the associate dean for student affairs, received a threat that he "would end up without a job, family, friends, and his daughter." In a phone conversation on July 31, 1992, I also was told that Jim should end up without his job, family, neighbors, and child.
Nine months later, my husband is without a job and ostracized within his community. He does, however, still have the respect, love, and support of his family. As Jim and I work within the system to "clear his name," I am concerned about the increasing publicity of details and allegations about his personal life and the effects that this has on his family, particularly his daughter.
Since July of 1992, there have been continuous "leaks" of intimate, disparaging, and inaccurate information about Jim and our family. My fear is that there might be only one motive for its dissemination -- to humiliate a man, alienate his family, and hurt his child.
Jim and I have maintained these standards throughout all of this ordeal: not to indulge in character assassination of any of his professional colleagues and not to discuss our private life in public in an effort to dispute any false allegations that have been made against him. It is difficult for us, however, to see our daughter upset by false and sensationalized images of her father and not react. We are committed, though, to not get drawn into a debate and reveal information about ourselves or others that should remain private.
I hope that the reputation that Jim has earned at MIT over the past six years will serve as a defense of his character.
I appreciate all of the support that we have received from the MIT community and would value any efforts that can be made to contain these destructive, distorted personal attacks.
Ad Hoc Proposal Is Dangerously Broad
Lars Bader's column ["Sexual Harassment Proposal Would Only Worsen Situation," Apr. 16], though harsh, rightly points out severe flaws in the Ad Hoc committee's proposed policy. When I first read the policy, I was shocked and appalled at the broad, vague and extensive definitions used, and how the hearing process is a civil-libertarian's nightmare.
Besides banning "sexist" "remarks" and "behavior", it also criminalizes those which are "...anti-gay, racist, anti-Semitic, classist, anti-disability or otherwise discriminatory..." How can a fearful person who talks and socializes have any sort of sense as to when he or she will overstep these rules? The consequences of doing so could be serious, as convicted defendants will be subject to the unspecified "mandatory minimum penalties."
Such amorphous offenses can readily serve as an intellectual bludgeon. Just the threat of prosecution can have a chilling effect. This expansiveness creates a favorable environment for selective enforcement and use of charges as weapons of intimidation. A university should be a place where people are encouraged to explore ideas, rather than needing to worry whether an impolitic opinion or rude rejoinder will land them in disciplinary proceedings.
Notably missing from the proposal are such concepts as presumption of innocence, any standard of proof, and the ability to question one's accusers. And that everything about a case is to be kept secret does not increase confidence in a fair outcome.
While social advocacy is laudable, it defies common sense to have a group of dedicated activists sitting in official judgment as to the guilt or innocence of a defendant charged with offenses in their area of activism. Having these very partial parties then determine punishment further heightens the absurdity. The grievance committee membership is not just biased, it is so slanted as to be nearly perpendicular.
MIT, like other places, has serious problems that need to be addressed. Unfortunately, the Ad Hoc policy serves only to fuel suspicions that these issues are being used to justify political policing.
Seth Finkelstein '85
Shorter IAP Could Be Calendar Compromise
At the risk of offering advice to those better informed than I, it seems to me there is a middle ground between the faculty's desire concerning the number and distribution of teaching days, and the students' desire not to shorten the summer break, namely: Accept the Institute Calendar Committee's recommendations regarding the number of teaching days and holidays per term, and the starting date of the fall term. Shorten IAP to 14 teaching days (instead of the committee's recommendation to lengthen IAP to 19 teaching days), and start and finish the spring term a week earlier than recommended.
Gary Schwartz '67