Jan. 4, 2001
Vol. 20 No. 7

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    Adopted in May 1990, sexual harassment policy under review

    Jennifer Leovy
    News Office

    A committee appointed in the spring by Geoffrey Stone, Provost, is reviewing the University’s current sexual harassment policy and procedures, which were adopted in May 1990.

    The Council of the University Senate had adopted the policy that year with a provision that it be reviewed in the future to make sure it continued to serve the community effectively.

    “When the procedures were originally designed by a committee of faculty, students and staff, no one knew how successful the original structure would be,” said Aneesah Ali, Assistant Provost and Affirmative Action Officer and a member of the Sexual Harassment Policy Review Committee. “It has worked well, but we believe after 10 years it is time for a review. Basic sexual harassment issues do not change, but sexual harassment law and its interpretation may have changed during the past decade.”

    Edward Cook, Associate Professor in History and Chairman of the Sexual Harassment Policy Review Committee, said in addition to focusing on legal changes, the committee is looking at how the policy relates to the current experience on campus and comparing Chicago’s process with other universities’ procedures.

    In addition to defining sexual harassment, the current policy includes such procedures as advising, mediation and formal hearings to resolve complaints. Ali said the current resolution process respects the privacy of everyone involved. Individuals who have experienced sexual harassment may contact complaint advisers, trained members of the University faculty and staff whose role it is to provide an open discussion about how to proceed, either formally or informally.

    “The review committee will produce a report for Provost Stone on the current policy with specific recommendations, if appropriate,” said Cook. “Then those recommendations would be sent to the Council of the Senate for legislative approval.”

    During the Fall Quarter, the Review Committee began meeting with representatives from such University offices as Employee Labor Relations and Housing. That process will continue during Winter Quarter, exploring the current state of sexual harassment issues in the University and the effectiveness of established policies.

    “We would like to open the floor to anyone in the University community who has considered these issues thoughtfully, having encountered this policy or issues surrounding sexual harassment in their professional or academic lives,” said Ali.

    Comments, questions or suggestions may be directed to the Review Committee at the e-mail address SHP-review@listhost.

    uchicago.edu. The current policy is available in the Student Manual of University Policies and Regulations, in the faculty handbook and online at http://www.

    uchicago.edu/docs/policies/provostoffice/sexharas.pdf. The brochure “Sexual Harassment: What We Can Do,” is located at http://www.uchicago.edu/docs/sexharass.html. A list of the current complaint advisers appears in that brochure and in the University Directory.

    In addition to Ali and Cook, Review Committee members are Patricia Bergeson, Associate General Counsel, Ex-officio; Franklin Gamwell, the Shailer Matthews Professor in the Divinity School; Kathy Irving-Payton, Assistant Director, Office of Employee/Labor Relations in University Human Resources Management; Gregory Jackson, Chief Information Officer; Archita Parikh, a third-year student in the College; Nancy Schwartz, Professor in Pediatrics and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; and Amanda Woodward, Associate Professor in Psychology.

    Ali said the Committee plans to complete its review by June.