Concepts familiar from grade-school algebra have broad ramifications in computer science.
A revised comprehensive guide on "Dealing with Harassment at MIT" has been completed and will be distributed beginning next week to all students, faculty and staff throughout the Institute.
The 68-page booklet is one of the first documents in the country simultaneously to address the rights and responsibilities of all of the parties that might become involved in an incident of harassment: the complainant, the respondent, complaint handlers and colleagues.
The document covers harassment of all kinds-including race, color, gender, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation and age. Its preparation was coordinated by a group headed by Professor Samuel J. Keyser, associate provost for Institute life.
"This publication," said Professor Keyser, "is part of an ongoing process at MIT to create an environment of civility and mutual respect, one in which everyone can pursue their studies and work unhindered. Its purpose is to prevent harassment, and, when harassment occurs, to improve the way we deal with it."
The process includes training workshops for complaint handlers, as well as the advance letters that are starting to go out this week from the vice presidents, deans or department heads to faculty, students and staff, calling attention to the policies and procedures, individual responsibilities and resources for dealing with harassment.
The workshops make use of a video developed by a group appointed by President Charles M. Vest to assist in the preparation of the guide. The group includes Dr. Keyser and Isaac M. Colbert, associate dean of the graduate school; Andrew Eisenman, assistant dean for residence and campus activities; Margaret Ann Gray, training and development coordinator in the personnel office; Mary E. Ni, assistant dean for residence and campus activities; and Mary P. Rowe, ombudsperson and special assistant to the president.
The group put together a video training session in which Dr. Colbert and Dr. Ni acted the parts of a complaint handler and a woman student talking about harassment by a professor. The group is planning to do two more videos-one on racial harassment and another from the perspective of a support staff person.
Dr. Keyser said, "Harassment in any form is unacceptable and will not be tolerated at MIT. The development and distribution of 'Dealing with Harassment at MIT' is directed specifically at heightening our awareness of what harassment is and what resources are available to the community to help combat it."
In keeping with MIT's long-held position that complainants should have as much choice as possible in responding to harassment, the booklet describes a number of options open to those who believe themselves to be the target of harassment. It also includes a summary of options to help those who might feel the need to take action swiftly.
It has a table of "MIT Resources"-a check-off list of who at MIT can play various roles in dealing with harassment. The chapter headings of the guide are: Quick Guide for the Complainant; Policies and Standards; Multiple Options for Dealing with Harassment; Information for Supervisors and Other Complaint Handlers; Information for the Respondent; Information for Others: Colleagues, Advisors and Bystanders;
The booklet's five appendices are the Committee on Discipline Rules and Regulations; Procedures for Residence and Campus Activities Formal Hearings; Form for Anonymous Reports of Sexual Assault to _Campus Police; Excerpts from Laws Relevant to Harassment; Resources Outside of MIT; and Glossary of Terms.
The "Form for Anonymous Reports of Sexual Assault to _Campus Police" was developed by MIT Campus Police to facilitate reporting an incident for statistical records but without using the names of the complainant or the offender.
Dr. Keyser said the guide was developed "with the assistance of people throughout the MIT community-faculty, students and staff-who have offered their insights and experience with the MIT complaint system and who have reviewed and made suggestions on earlier drafts.
"In some ways, this guide is a work in progress. Comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome, and may be sent to the Office of the Provost," he said.
A version of this article appeared in the October 27, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 11).