Dean of the Faculty Henry Rosovsky has sent a letter to Derek Walcott, a visiting professor of English from Boston University last fall, "admonishing" him for an act of sexual harassment. He has sent a copy of the letter to the B U English department, stating that he "would be reluctant to approve his appointment to this Faculty in the future."
B U English department chairman Patricia Craddock said yesterday that she had just received the letter and that it would necessarily have an effect on B U had not yet decided if it would take any action Rosovsky's decision was based entirely on evidence at Harvard, she said, adding that it would necessarily have an effect on B U "At the moment, it seems to me that it's [an affair] between Professor Walcott and Harvard," she said.
Rosovsky announced his actions in a letter to the student who made the original complaint.
Until Rosovsky decided to write the letter, it appeared that the student who made the complaint would not learn how the College resolved the matter. The official letter of resolution from the College told her only that "formal action" had been taken, but it did not specify what this action was.
Rosovsky wrote, however that he was "somewhat troubled," to learn that Walcott's actions "took place in the contest of what seems to have been your own willingness to establish with him some degree of personal intimacy. He added, "It might be worth reflecting on the effect your behavior might have had upon Professor Walcott's own."
While praising Rosovsky for what he did, the freshman who made the complaint who has asked not to be identified objected to the reference to her own behavior stating that there was nothing unusual in her behavior to wards Walcott the student said. Harvard has not treated me as a victim of sexual harassment they have treated me as the accuser of a famous poet and of a Harvard professor."
Walcott has declined to comment on the case.
The complaint against Walcott alleges that in a discussion of the student's poetry, the professor suddenly said that he did not want to discuss poetry and began to discuss sex, asking the students, "Would you make love with me?" The student declined Walcott's advances and seportedly received the only C in the class. Walcott has acknowledged that the student described has conduct accurately, according to a letter to the freshman from assistant dean of the college, Martyn M. Lewis '70.
Rosovsky's letter did not address the student's formal request that her grade be reevaluated as part of the harassment complaint Lewis's letter to the student started that the College does not consider the grade change to be part of the sexual harassment complaint.
If the student wishes to pursue a grade change, Lewis said she will have to follow normal channels, which include resubmitting written work for reevaluation.