Marshall to Investigate Guard Charges

New General Counsel Says Inquiry Will 'Move With Deliberate Caution'

General Counsel Margaret H. Marshall said yesterday that she would "move with deliberate caution" to investigate allegations that University security guards were harassed by their supervisors.

Marshall, who assumed the position of Harvard's chief lawyer two weeks ago, said President Neil L. Rudenstine has asked her to take a "fresh look" at the charges made by seven former and current guards last spring.

The alleged harassment included verbal abuse, unusually close monitoring during shifts and discipline given in retaliation for taking complaints to superiors.

Yesterday, Marshall declined to say whether she had begun the investigation. But she did say that any investigation performed by her office would be "careful and consistent and thorough and methodical."

"As you know, President Rudenstine asked me to take a fresh look at these, and that's what I'm doing," Marshall said.


Marshall said she wants to conduct an inquiry that will put her "in the best position to act" after she has made her findings.

Many guards have expressed skepticism about whether the general counsel's office is capable of performing an adequate investigation of their charges. Several guards and police department officials criticized an investigation conducted last spring by the office of then-General Counsel Daniel Steiner '54 because no guards were interviewed.

Marshall refused to discuss whether she would talk with guards, saying only that both supervisors and guards were important members of the Harvard community.

"It has always been my experience that not only supervisors know how to proceed," Marshall said.

Marshall, a past president of the Boston Bar Association, repeatedly emphasized in the 45-minute interview that she was still getting acquainted with the essentials of the University and her job. Her second floor in Massachusetts Hall is a testament to that fact, with walls virtually devoid of art or photographs and a bookcase which remains largely barren.

Marshall consistently refused to say with whom she would speak in regards to thesecurity controversy. She acknowledged that shehad met with Police Chief Paul E. Johnson, whooversees the security department, but would notsay whether they had discussed the security guardcontroversy.

Johnson could not be reached for commentyesterday.

Several guards and police officers havesuggested that the general counsel should notprobe charges of harassment because her job is toprevent the University from being sued. Marshalldenied that her impending investigation of theguard unit represents a conflict of interest.

"As a general statement, general counsels willfind out the facts, and that has never been aconflict of interest," Marshall said.

Ira E. Stoll '94 contributed to thereporting of this story.