A group of roughly 30 people protested on Friday afternoon on behalf of Johany Pilar, a mailroom worker who says that she was sexually harassed by a co-worker.
In an address to the protesters, Pilar told her story about how a male co-worker grabbed her on several occasions and said he wanted to kiss her. After a few supporters gave additional speeches over a microphone outside the Holyoke Center, the group circled the plaza and chanted.
“We need help from you all,” Pilar said.
At the end of the rally, she expressed her appreciation to those who had gathered on her behalf.
“I would like to say thank you,” Pilar said. “I just want justice. That’s it.”
As part of the rally, the protesters entered the Yard and marched around Massachusetts Hall, which houses University President Drew G. Faust’s office. Pilar and Geoff P. Carens, Pilar’s union representative and a Harvard library assistant, handed an employee at Massachusetts Hall a signed letter that included Pilar’s story and was addressed to Faust. The group subsequently moved to circle the Science Center, the building containing the mailroom where Pilar works.
“I think we’re really getting out there in the public eye,” said Carens, who helped organize the rally, led many of the chants, and introduced the speakers.
Pilar has alleged that last spring, a man working with her in the mailroom said he wanted to kiss her and twice grabbed her face. Weeks later, Pilar said, he grabbed her hand.
Pilar said that after she reported the incidents, her managers threatened her with disciplinary action or termination and prevented her from leaving work to see a therapist. Pilar first publicly told her story at a panel on gender inequality and “rape culture” in mid-October. Friday’s event followed an initial rally on Pilar’s behalf last month.
University spokesperson Kevin Galvin has repeatedly declined to comment on the specific case, but he has said that Harvard takes allegations of sexual harassment seriously and “maintains a policy of non-retaliation” so that employees can come forward with complaints, which can then be investigated.
The letter, which Carens said garnered around 75 signatures, included demands that Pilar receive a new supervisor, a removal of disciplinary warnings from her file, and “an end to the pressure and threats.”
—Staff writer Samuel Y. Weinstock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.