A Question Of Integrity


To the Editors of The Crimson:

Harvard's official response to its survey on harassment, while evidencing concern, distorts the scope and trivializes the gravity of sexual harassment on campus. The statistics are shocking: 10 percent of female junior faculty report pressure for sexual relations and, after four years at Harvard, 48 percent of Senior undergraduate women report having experienced some form of sexual harassment.

Despite Harvard's official statements deploring harassment, only a few of these female undergraduates and junior faculty (9 percent and 15 percent) have even informally discussed incidents of harassment with University official, yet more than half claim their professional or academic performance was hampered!

As reasons for not reporting incidents of harassment, 50 percent of these women cited fear of reprisal and 20 percent cited the perception that the University would be insensitive to their claims. Yet Assistant Dean of the College Marlyn Lewis states that, "We are not perceived as being ineffective and unresponsive in our handling of cases."

Dean Rosovsky claims, in a cover letter to the survey, that, "these findings do not come as a great surprise." He does, however, concede that, "sexual harassment is perceived to exist to a much greater extent than the incidence of complaints implies."

Sexual harassment at harvard University is not a perception but a documented, morally reprehensible, fact. Harassment-is a violates the mutual trust and repeat essential to the educational process and to quality student-teacher relationships. He is also sex discrimination and therefore illegal, a violation of federal law under Title IX of the Equal Education Act of 1972.

The survey cites the anonymous comments of tenured male faculty members, such as, "Much of the harassment bit is due to the feminist hysteria." Such comments underscore the need for concerted University action and education. If Dean Rosovsky was not surprised, he, like many others in this community, should be outraged.

The undergraduate co-authors of the Harassment Survey have already proposed extensive revisions to the University's grievance procedures. There is no lack of committed students willing to assist the University in improving the situation.

At the heart of the sexual harassment issue lies the University's vision of itself. The FAS Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities describes Harvard as a community "ideally characterized by free expresson, free inquiry, intellectual honesty, respect for the dignity of others, and openness to constructive change." The integrity of that vision is now at issue. Harvard must face responsibly the findings of its survey on sexual harassment. Mare Kushner '84