Sexual harassment is not an issue primarily of sex or aggression, but of women's right to a workplace, Assistant Professor of Government Ethel Klein told a Kennedy School once last night.
Klein's comments came at a Radcliffe Union of Students (RUS)-sponsored discussion before 35 people.
One organizer of the discussion said she feared that the Faculty Council committee studying the problem would submit in-adequate proposals in January, without prior student input. At that time, students would be too busy to evaluate the proposals properly or speak out about them, she added.
Panelists for the discussion were Klein, Christina A. Spaulding '84, vice-president of RUS, and Sylvia Maxfield, a graduate student who filed a complaint with the University about Professor of Government Jorge I. Dominguez.
Klein said the problem of sexual harassment is that women are not taken seriously by men in power at Harvard. "How can you take away the autonomy of senior faculty in order to protect women in the University?" she asked.
Spaulding, one of the co-designers of the recently released sexual harassment survey, said that some professors who answered the survey wrote that they believed one cannot learn or teach unless there "is some kind of electricity" between students and staff.
One participant suggested that the only way to change the University's policy was through litigation. But Klein said that in order to pursue litigation a graduate student or faculty member would have to decide that "this is the issue of my life" and be willing to lose her career.
Maxfield said that in her case, Harvard did not notify her about the actions that were taken against Dominguez--though she did others told her that the University asked him "not to have anything to do with her" in the future."
During the discussions, a controversy of the over alleged violations the University had made in the Dominguez case. Maxfield said the University had agreed to set up a Faculty Council committee that would hold open hearings on new University procedures.
Assistant Dean of the College Marlyn M. Lewis '70, who deals with harassment complaints, disagreed, saying that the committee would probably have hearings in January, and has not held any yet because it has not considered any proposals.
Klein countered by saying that RUS had submitted a proposal to the committee, "but it's not their proposal, so it's seen as secondary material."