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Harassment Policy Limits Freedom

In a recent letter ["Harassment Guidelines Protest Free Expression," Nov. 19], Bill Baker stated that the harassment guide actually protects free speech. He is wrong both in principle and in practice.

The harassment guide states that "verbal behavior" which creates an "offensive" environment is harassment. Elsewhere it states that harassment is punishable. Hence, offensive verbal behavior (hurting someone's feelings) is punishable. So much for protecting free speech in principle.

In a study break to "discuss harassment issues" held in Senior House two days after Dealing with Harassment at MIT burning that occurred there, a campus police officer, an administrator, and the house master each explicitly affirmed that there were certain remarks "that you just can say" and that you will be punished for. And these pronouncements are being verified all across campus by having individual students "talked to" by house masters and administrators in discussions where they are told that they had better watch their mouths, or else. So much for protecting free speech in practice.

Let there be no mistake, the harassment policy, both in its formulation and its application, militates against the freedom of expression.

Nick Cassimatis '94