November 27, 2019
The Harvard Administration is once again spreading misinformation in order to distract from its extreme and unwarranted rejection of student workers’ proposal to improve protections against discrimination and harassment.
So, let’s set the record straight.
Student workers are demanding new protections from harassment and discrimination because, as the American Association of Universities’ (AAU) October 2019 survey confirmed, the current process has failed to make things better after five years of Harvard trying to reform its processes. It is therefore not surprising that student workers have lost faith in Harvard’s ability to police itself. Even the Harvard president said, in response to the AAU survey results, “We need to do better.”
It is important that this independent process include reporting of all harassment and discrimination because the Title IX ofice is set up to handle cases of harassment and discrimination based on sex. Right now, there is no internal process for handling harassment and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, immigration status, or any other factor besides sex. It is unbelievable that Harvard University would not have a trusted process for student workers to report discrimination and harassment based on race, ethnicity, and other factors. That must change.
Harvard claims it does not support our proposal because the process would force survivors to face their accusers and put students in “adversarial, cross-examination situations.” These claims are not true. Here are the facts about our proposal:
Providing student workers with a neutral, independent process they can trust will improve the culture at Harvard. Student workers are more likely to report without fear of retaliation. Harvard will be better able to identify and remove perpetrators of harassment and discrimination, which will benefit the entire community. We are hopeful that Harvard will listen to student workers’ concerns, and address this urgent issue in the Harvard Graduate Students Union-UAW contract.