Letter to the Thistle

The MIT Harassment Policy: Fact or Fiction?

Welcome to M.I.T. - a place of infinite possibility, but also
some serious problems. In this letter, I would like to focus on the
M.I.T. harassment policy and share my own experiences with the yet
uninitiated to M.I.T. politics. Several years ago, I felt harassed by
certain members of the M.I.T. math department. At the time, I was an
EE major and was double majoring in math. I still had one more math
course to complete for my math degree and a thesis to write for my EE
degree.
	In an effort to stop the harassment, I tried to discuss the
matter with Prof. Benney, the mathematics department head, but he
refused to speak with me. Following the instructions in the M.I.T.
"Tell Someone" booklet, I turned to my math faculty advisor, who
responded with threats, bad language, and condemnations of me to other
departments at M.I.T. After weeks of being subjected to ceaseless
tormenting, I dropped the math course I needed for my degree and
withdrew. The math department immediately asked the Registrar to
forbid me from completing my degree.
	In response, I filed a harassment complaint with then
associate provost S. Jay Keyser who sent me to see Dean Robert
Randolph. Dean Randolph, in turn, told me that if I were willing to
drop the complaint, then the math department was prepared to give me a
degree right then. I made it clear that I did not want the math degree
if this was just the math department's expedient way of getting rid of
me. I wanted this situation resolved. Dean Randolph assured me that
the former was not the case. M.I.T. was simply trying to act in my
best interest. So I agreed. I took the degree as an apology from the
math department.
	But lately I have discovered certain distressing facts. My
complaint against the math department was put in my permanent record.
No mention of it exists in the records of those who harassed me. This
was done to ensure that future administrators would know that I was
not to be permitted back at M.I.T.
	In fact, when I recently applied to take a math course as a
special student, I was rejected and told by the math department that
this was done for personal rather than academic reasons. My attempts
at receiving assistance from the administration (including writing
President Vest) have been futile. The administration's attitude is
that I should recognize that once an egg is broken, it can never be
put back in its shell.
	That may very well be the case, but I think it should be
stated publicly. The harassment bulletin should indicate in black and
white that if you make a complaint against a faculty member (whether
it's justified or not) you will be marked for the rest of your life.
Things will be written in your record without your knowledge as a
warning to administrators never to allow you to study at M.I.T. again
	In my case, it has been four and a half long years since this
harassment and discrimination began. I am now a working professional,
but I will always remember the M.I.T. math department and the
administration with disappointment and anger. It is sad that after all
those years at M.I.T, all that work, and all that tuition, I don't
actually have an alma mater. I have a spurious degree and memories of
deception and persecution.
	So be aware and be careful. M.I.T's commitment to safeguarding
the welfare of all is empty rhetoric. Don't be surprised if the
actions of senior M.I.T. officials shock and amaze you. The harassment
policy is just window dressing. No one in the administration will help
you.

name withheld by request

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