The Faculty Policy Committee (FPC) has been asked by a 24-6 vote of the faculty to reassess the grievance procedures made available by the Institute for use by faculty members. The action came at the April 20 faculty meeting.
The motion, introduced by Professor Judith Thomson of Linguistics and Philosophy, also asked the FPC to report back to the faculty on whether the procedures need revision.
The motion grew out of discussions at earlier meetings on the decision to close the Center for Materials Research in Archaeology and Ethnology. President Charles M. Vest appointed an ad hoc committee to review the process by which that decision was reached after several faculty members expressed their unhappiness at the action.
Professor Thomson said that while the president and provost "do from time to time appoint ad hoc committees to hear faculty complaints of a variety of different kinds," such decisions are made on a "case by case basis." Under such a system, she said, there is little assurance "that like cases will be treated alike."
In other faculty meeting business, Professor Samuel Jay Keyser, associate provost for Institute life, presented his annual report on incidents of harassment at MIT, based on a survey he circulated to 2,730 members of the community. The survey sought information on how many harassment complaints faculty members and others handled. The survey responders reported handling 99 cases of all types in 1993.
Professor Keyser, who noted that the chair of the faculty is in the process of assembling a committee to produce in future years a more extensive record of harassment incidents and activities, also reported on a series of complaint-handling sessions he has conducted. About 800 people have participated in the 27 sessions, which center around a video in which two staff members play the roles of a person relating an incident of harassment to a supervisor.
President Charles M. Vest praised Professor Keyser for his contributions to the community in this area, which he said is "intellectually challenging, emotionally charged and very, very important in a diverse community." He said the work requires "a very special talent and a special human being" and the community owes Professor Keyser "an enormous debt of gratitude."
A version of this article appeared in the April 27, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 30).