Letters to the EditorWe deplore the comment made by Provost Mark S. Wrighton, "Only one complaint was filed against former Associate Dean James R. Tewhey during his tenure here and that was without merit." ["Tewhey Complaint Was Without Merit," Apr. 27] This comment completely erases the complaint made by eight members of Tewhey's staff last spring. Wrighton's comment also erases the complaint brought forward by staff member Katherine M. Nolan. Unsuccessful in using MIT's system to stop Tewhey's harassment (she acquired a cease-and-desist order through MIT Campus Police against Tewhey on February 22), Nolan was evidently forced to take further action outside the system and obtain a restraining order on April 9th from the Newton District Court against former Dean Tewhey because of his continued harassment.
Such misinformation and distortion reported on the front page of MIT's student newspaper only compounds the problems emanating from the Residence and Campus Activities Office. While Wrighton may only know of one complaint, we know there were others filed with Dean for Student Affairs Arthur Smith, the Personnel Office, and Campus Police. Wrighton's evident lack of knowledge only points out the problems inherent in a multi-access system and demonstrates the need to centralize the process of addressing sexual harassment complaints.
We also strongly deplore the attacks on Nolan and ask that she be given whatever supports and relief are possible. It is very disturbing that the provost felt compelled to defend Tewhey, rather than support Nolan, with his statement, "He [Tewhey] felt the time had come to resign... I agreed with his assessment and accepted his resignation without any prejudgement on the harassment allegations involved in the court order." This statement veils the reality of Tewhey's known harassment, evidenced by Nolan's need to use MIT's system to acquire a cease-and-desist order which ultimately proved ineffective. It is a further distortion on the part of Wrighton to suggest that this specific case of harassment was reducible to a contest between two people, rather than associated with a larger pattern of power abuse by Tewhey, which is the defining characteristic of harassment and stalking. Wrighton's comments and stance again substantially reduce confidence in MIT's ability to formulate, implement, and practice a credible sexual harassment policy and set of procedures.
We also deplore Tewhey's efforts to claim that he is the real victim of sexual harassment and present himself as a harmed person in need of protection ("fears continued harassment"). From the reports, it seems clear that Tewhey was the perpetrator, not the victim. To cite the discomfitures to him inherent in the process of redressing his abuse of others, as harassment, is a gross manipulation and further traumatizing to the individuals he victimized.
We urge the Institute to implement a credible harassment policy and procedures, to centralize the process of receiving and resolving sexual harassment cases in order to avoid the situation outlined above, and to create a system whereby victims of harassment may have their claims quickly and honorably addressed and resolved.
Selya F. R. Price '93
For the Ad Hoc Committee
Against Harassment at MIT