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MIT Should Investigate Tewhey's Charges

The Tech received this letter, addressed to the MIT community.

On April 20, 1993, MIT Provost Mark S. Wrighton demanded that I resign from my position as associate dean for residence and campus activities because "the existence of a court order" made my "position untenable." The court order had been issued based on an allegation of harassment made by another MIT employee, Katherine Nolan.

During the meeting with the Provost, I denied this allegation and requested a leave of absence pending an investigation. This request was refused. I stated that I would agree to resign from my position as long as MIT acted on the grievance that I had filled with the Personnel Department on April 17 against Nolan. It was my understanding that the Provost agreed to this condition. In early May, I met with the Director of Personnel, Joan Rice. I was told that Wrighton had agreed to a wide ranging investigation of all allegations I had made and all those that had been made against me. In June, after Commencement, when students had left the campus, faculty had departed, and the student newspaper had closed, I received a letter from Rice informing me that MIT would not undertake the investigation that she had described in May. For the past five and a half months, I have made every possible effort to get MIT to reconsider this decision and to act in good faith.

On Oct. 12, 1993, I received a letter from MIT demanding that I submit a letter of resignation by Oct. 15, or I would be terminated from the Institute. Since my agreement to resign in April was tied to the commitment that MIT would undertake an investigation of my grievance and since MIT has refused to do so, I no longer feel bound by that agreement. Signing a letter of resignation would be an acknowledgment that the reason I was asked to leave was legitimate. I will not voluntarily resign from my position on the basis of a false allegation that has been made against me and which MIT refuses to investigate.

I have provided MIT with documentation of harassment that began over one year ago and continues to the present time. Beginning in July, 1992, Nolan went to my supervisor and other administrators at MIT and made false and inflammatory statements about my character. She demanded that I be terminated as an associate dean based not on any issue of harassment, but rather on issues that lay wholly outside the workplace. Her actions were first brought to my attention in a meeting on Oct. 10, 1992. During that meeting, my supervisor acknowledged that the issues Nolan had raised with him were unrelated to my professional responsibilities and should not have been raised in the workplace. He also acknowledged that had I, as a male, engaged in the same type of behavior at MIT as had Nolan, my actions would have been considered sexual harassment. Over the next five months, I asked my supervisor, the ombudsperson at MIT and the Personnel Office to place boundaries on Nolan's behavior. No action was ever taken on my requests. In February of 1993, my supervisor reported to me that "there is a group of people determined to get you fired and that group includes Kathie Nolan." In March, I filed a fourteen page outline of harassment charges with Campus Police (with a copy to the Personnel Office) in order to secure a cease and desist order against Nolan. Later in March, I requested a leave of absence from MIT because of the "hostile environment." On April 13, I filed a formal grievance with personnel against Nolan. Following notification on June 4 that the grievance would not be acted on, I appealed the decision to the provost and the president. The appeal was turned down. At no time in this entire process, did I find MIT willing to investigate any of the charged of harassment that I had made or willing to make any effort to stop the attacks. I have found both the harassment policy and the grievance procedure to be no more than "smoke and mirrors."

Since my departure from the campus in April, the harassment has continued. These attacks have originated from MIT offices, during working hours, utilizing MIT phones and computers. I have provided MIT with copies of electronic mail that was sent on May 5, 1993 to former employees requesting any "dirt" that they might have on me. I have provided MIT with the name of the individual who sent this e-mail and the names of the individuals to whom it was sent. A fabricated (and since disproved) charge of serious misconduct with a student was reported to the Personnel Office and The Tech. On July 26, 1993, I filed a grievance against a second MIT employee, Sharon Shea regarding these matters. Again, no action has been taken to review this grievance or to halt the harassment.

In August, the school that I am presently affiliated with received a call from an anonymous female who anted to inform them about my alleged misconduct while at MIT. On Oct. 13, 1993, packets of inaccurate and inflammatory materials along with current MIT publications were received by several faculty and the dean of this same institution. On the evening of the same day that the mailings arrived, my car was broken into and senselessly vandalized on that campus. I have also come to believe that an attempt has been made to file an anonymous complaint with state agencies, that I sexually abuse my daughter.

As a result of all of the above, I have filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination against MIT. I will continue to pursue every avenue available it ensure that an investigation is completed.

I am not asking that the MIT community assume that I am innocent or that others are guilty of any of the allegations that have been made. Only an impartial investigation can make that finding. I am asking, however, that standards be established at MIT to protect the personal and professional integrity of all members of the community. I am asking that people support a policy that precludes allegations, particularly if the allegations relate to matters that are not work related. I am also asking that the Personnel Office implement consistent procedures on reviewing and responding to grievances so that all men and women on campus are protected from harassment.

The position that MIT has taken in this matter may be politically expedient, but I believe it to be short-sighted. In its effort to be "politically correct" and to react without hesitation to any allegation that a woman makes, MIT has fostered an environment where no male is protected from the damage of a fabricated charge. In addition, by refusing to investigate the grievances that I have filed, MIT has established a precedent that condones harassment and will, I believe, prove to be both detrimental to both men and women on campus.

James R. Tewhey