On Harassment and How We Treat One Another

December 17, 2012

To the members of the MIT community:
While this letter satisfies a legal obligation for MIT, I would like to use this opportunity to touch on a broader subject that matters deeply to me as a long-time member of the MIT community.
I am certain that you do not need me to tell you that harassment, including sexual harassment, is against MIT policy and may be against the law; you can, however, find the specifics of our policy below, including a link for reporting harassment. The link allows reports to be made anonymously.
But I do want to restate here what all of us know: harassment of anyone violates the deep institutional values that all of us share at MIT.
The MIT I know is a place where our lives and our work are enriched because we push and inspire one another intellectually, a place where we make progress because we have the courage to articulate new ideas and to openly listen to other's opinions. This capacity for friendly disagreement and intellectual daring is essential to our creative process and ability to solve hard problems. But it only works in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. Harassment has no place in that picture, and no place at MIT.
MIT is also, to a remarkable degree, a community of high values and ethics, a fact reflected in our institutional statement of Responsible and Ethical Conduct. Almost without exception, people here instinctively choose to do the right thing and take the high road. I know we all agree that harassment in any form runs counter to the trust, decency and integrity at the heart of our community – and that it is simply not part of how we should live, work and make progress together.
I know that we have the practical wisdom to live up to the terms of our policies. But I believe that, in keeping with our values, we should constantly strive to achieve what no policy can enforce: that as members of one community, we treat each other with true decency, integrity, respect and kindness.
L. Rafael Reif


MIT's policy on harassment, which includes our policy on sexual harassment, is covered in Section 9.5 of MIT Policies and Procedures: A Guide for Faculty and Staff Members and can be accessed online at http://web.mit.edu/policies/9/9.5.html. Our Guidelines for Raising Complaints about Harassment can be found at http://web.mit.edu/communications/hg/.

There are many options available for handling problems of harassment, and MIT has a variety of offices and people to assist those who believe that they have been subject to harassment. Members of the MIT community who believe they are being harassed should immediately bring their concerns to the attention of an appropriate MIT staff member, such as a supervisor or a Human Resources staff member. In addition, ombudspersons in the Office of the President are available for consultation. Training classes are offered through the Human Resources Department and the General Counsel's Office, and an online tool for employees, supervisors, and faculty can be found on the MIT Training & Professional Development website.

As an institution, we have adopted a statement of Responsible and Ethical Conduct at MIT. The statement is a compilation of existing, longstanding policies that individually and taken as a whole express the Institute's expectations of how we treat each other, and the manner in which we carry out our responsibilities as educators, researchers and administrators. We are also reaffirming our belief that ethical behavior applies to every member of our community.

In instances where application of these policies and procedures to specific situations is unclear, we are all obliged to obtain adequate clarification or interpretation from resources listed below. Additionally, in cases where one believes a clear violation of these policies has occurred, the matter should be brought to the attention of the individual's supervisor or other resource as indicated below. An anonymous reporting mechanism is also provided, at http://web.mit.edu/conduct.

We all share responsibility in ensuring compliance with the values and principles contained within this statement of Responsible and Ethical Conduct at MIT.