Bathroom Goes Private

Science Center Stalls Now Feature Doors

Men who use the bathroom in the basement of the Science Center may have noticed something unusual the past couple of days--doors on the stalls.

The stall doors, which were replaced Tuesday, had been removed in 1985 when two undergraduates and a University employee filed formal complaints of harassment in the bathroom.

Science Center Director Nona D. Strauss said yesterday that the doors were removed in 1985 at the request of the Harvard Police Department after an "intolerable 15-year period of sexual harassment."

She said that since the sexual harassment problem had been "mitigated," the doors were ordered to be re-installed. Strauss also said the Science Center finally had the money to replace the doors.

The stall doors were ordered a few months ago and installed as soon as they arrived, said Science Center Facilities Manager Paul J. Kelly.

Strauss said if the pattern of sexual activity re-emerges after the stalls are rebuilt, the stall doors may again need removal.

"Sexual harassment is totally intolerable and we will have to find a solution if the problem should re-occur," Strauss said yesterday.

Last spring, Jol A. Silversmith '94 wrote Strauss a letter which said the lack of stall doors "lowers the quality of life at Harvard."

Silversmith, the former director of the Civil Liberties Union at Harvard, also argued that the situation in the basement bathroom "was quite embarrassing and frustrating."

The letter asked why there were no doors on the stalls, and when the doors wouldbe reinstalled.

"I wanted to hear any justification for whythis policy was continuing, and I was encouragingthem to do something about it," Silversmith saidthis week.

Strauss returned the letter, writing that inthe aforementioned 15-year period, a number ofcontinuing and escalating incidents including"extreme sexual harassment of students andemployees, public group sex activity, fist fights,arson and continual, extensive vandalism in themen's room," prompted the removal of the doors.

But the incidents are not limited to the 1985harassment complaints which prompted Dean ofStudents Archie C. Epps III to order the stalldoors removed.

In January 1990, Harvard Police officersarrested four men for allegedly engaging in "openand gross lewdness" in the bathroom. A monthearlier, the police had found a number of menusing the bathroom for sex