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06/07/95

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First annual sexual harassment report covers 79 allegations

STANFORD -- Seventy-nine allegations of sexual harassment were brought forward in the first year of Stanford University's new sexual harassment policy, according to a report by Laraine Zappert, the university's sexual harassment coordinating adviser. In 15 of 22 formal complaints and grievances, sexual harassment was found to have occurred, the report said.

The largest number of allegations -- a total of 26 -- came from undergraduates, followed by 23 from staff members, 15 from graduate students and 6 from faculty. More than three-quarters of those bringing allegations were women, but 17 men also brought complaints, seven of them against other men. (See accompanying text at end of article.)

"Undergraduates most frequently cited other undergraduates as their alleged harassers; similarly, for staff it was other staff, and for faculty, other faculty," the report said. The 15 allegations by graduate students were more evenly divided, with students complaining about harassment from faculty, staff and other graduate students.

"We are determined that sexual harassment and all forms of sexual intimidation and exploitation never be tolerated at Stanford," President Gerhard Casper said, in releasing the report. "Dr. Zappert's report reflects a good start under our new policy and procedures, and will be a great help as we continue to implement and improve them. Our goal is to deal with harassment promptly and effectively and, ultimately, to deter it."

The period reported upon was from December, 1993 to December, 1994, the first year under a sexual harassment policy that was adopted in late 1993, and which allows those with concerns multiple ways to raise them, in addition to reporting to supervisors or department chairs, as in the past. How individual cases are handled depends on the complainant's desires and how egregious is the alleged conduct. Many people prefer to report "informal concerns," which allows them to get advice and help in ending the offending behavior but without having to file a formal complaint and having their names revealed to the alleged harasser.

More formal complaints require investigations and can lead to sanctions if harassment is found to have occurred. If the complainant wants to go further, formal grievance procedures are initiated with investigations tailored to the needs of students, faculty and staff.

Investigations at Stanford concluded that sexual harassment had occurred in 13 of 20 of the formal complaints, and in two of four formal grievances, the report said. In all cases where there was a finding of sexual harassment, Zappert said, the university took some form of disciplinary action.

There also were 48 cases where people registered informal concerns. "Of the 48 concerns resolved, 20 resulted in some form of discipline, including termination of contractors, verbal warnings and letters; 11 were resolved by the individuals involved; 17 were dealt with through a variety of actions, including removal of the offensive material, arrest, removal from campus, etc., depending on the circumstances of the case," the report said. In some cases, such as harassing letters, the identity of the harasser was unknown.

Not all of the allegations were substantiated by investigations, however. Those were not necessarily false accusations, Zappert said. "An unsubstantiated allegation means only that the investigation was unable to prove conclusively that sexual harassment occurred."

The harassment reports involved 22 academic departments and 13 administrative or living units.

"As at most universities, most of the allegations clustered at the non-physical end of the harassment spectrum," the report said. "Issues raised included: sexual language in the classroom; public exhibition of pornographic art work and computer screen savers; harassing electronic mail; repeated and unwanted requests for dates or sexual encounters; unwanted sexual advances by a person in a position of superior power; homophobic comments and same-sex harassment; unwanted/inappropriate pursuit/stalking; unwanted physical behaviors (hugging, kissing, massaging, fondling); date rape and sexual assault."

Zappert said that so far, in 1995, the allegations are running ahead of last year. "I don't necessarily think there is more sexual harassment, but we have a better reporting procedure as a result of briefings, brochures and orientation sessions" on the sexual harassment policy, she said. Zappert delayed issuing her first annual report from January to June in order to get a more complete reporting from deans and other administrators in the field who are responsible for reporting any concerns or complaints that have come to their attention.

In an interview last November, Zappert, who is a clinical psychologist, said that "for most people [who are being harassed], the major goal is to get the behavior to stop. If we can do that informally and effectively, we will." Often, callers describe a situation to her and ask if it is harassment, and, if so, what she can do about it.

"I tell the person what his or her options are, and then I follow up to see if the situation was successfully resolved or not. Other times, calls will come through administrators. I work with them in a consulting capacity to help them figure out what to do."

During the first year of the new policy, the university provided ongoing training for a cadre of 18 sexual harassment advisers who act as resources to individuals who have concerns about sexual harassment, and six panelists who help deans and department heads deal with adjudicating harassment matters, as well as briefings for a variety of others. A brochure on sexual harassment, required by state law, was distributed to faculty, staff and students in June 1994 and is now available on line through the Portfolio system.

The policy was implemented by President Gerhard Casper in October 1993 with a complete formal review scheduled after two years. Zappert said an ad hoc committee headed by Jean Fetter, assistant to the president, has already begun meeting to consider procedural and legal issues that have arisen during implementation. the committee also is charged with adapting the program to changes in sexual harassment law which have tended to place more liability on employers for how they respond to sexual harassment concerns. The committee also will review problems with reporting on what disciplinary action was taken.

In her annual report Zappert said that "one of the recurring difficulties in administering a sexual harassment policy is the requirement to maintain absolute confidentiality about specific findings and remedies of sexual harassment investigations. As has been observed, it is difficult for people to have a sense that a sexual harassment policy actually provides effective remedies to situations if the information is available to no one other than the source and the object of the allegation."

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Table 1

Allegation against male -- by male, 7; by female, 57; by unknown, 1; total 65; allegation against female -- by male, 9; by female, 0; by unknown, 0; total 9; allegation against unknown -- by male, 1; by female, 3; by unknown, 1; total 5; total allegations -- by male, 17; by female, 60; unknown, 2; total 79.

As shown in Table 1, 60 of the allegations were brought forward by women and 17 by men. In two instances, the complainant's sex was not reported. In 57 of the 60 cases of women alleging sexual harassment, the allegation was made against a man. Seven men reported same-sex harassment, while 9 men alleged that women had harassed them.

Table 2

Allegation against undergrad -- by undergrad, 15; by graduate, 0; by faculty, 0; by staff, 0; by unknown, 1; by other, 0; total 16; allegation against graduate -- by undergrad, 3; by graduate, 3; by faculty, 2; by staff, 1; by unknown, 0; by other, 1; total 10; allegation against faculty -- by undergrad, 1; by graduate, 3; by faculty, 4; by staff, 3; by unknown, 0; by other, 1; total 12; allegation against staff -- by undergrad, 1; by graduate 3; by faculty, 0; by staff, 18; by unknown, 0; by other, 4; total 26; allegation against unknown -- by undergrad, 1; by graduate, 4; by faculty, 0; by staff, 0; by unknown, 2; by other, 0; total 7; allegation against other -- by undergrad, 5; by graduate, 2; by faculty, 0; by staff, 1; by unknown, 0; by other, 0; total 8; total allegations -- by undergrad, 26; by graduate, 15; by faculty, 6; by staff, 23; by unknown, 3; by other, 6; total 79.

As shown in Table 2, the most frequent allegations came from undergraduates (26), staff (23) and graduate students (15). Faculty reported six cases of alleged sexual harassment. In nine instances, a concern was raised by someone outside of the university or anonymously.

Undergraduates most frequently cited other undergraduates as their alleged harassers; similarly, for staff it was other staff, and for faculty, other faculty. The objects of graduate students' allegations were evenly spread among other graduate students, faculty and staff.

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