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Senate hears about sexual harassment case; reauthorizes human biology

STANFORD -- The Faculty Senate on June 2 heard comments about a recent sexual harassment case at Stanford, reauthorized the undergraduate program in human biology, and certified the course list for distribution requirements.

Sylvia Yanagisako, anthropology, initiated the sexual harassment discussion, asking President Gerhard Casper during the traditional question-and-answer period about articles that have appeared in local newspapers about Helen Bae, a former research assistant in the Medical School, who has accused Professor Seymour Levine, psychiatry, of sexual harassment.

Bae contends, Yanagisako told Casper, that "your response in the form of a letter of reprimand was inadequate."

"Bae alleges that Levine harassed her over a period of a year and that after she reported the harassment, an investigative committee composed of Stanford faculty recommended that he be reprimanded for professional misconduct," Yanagisako said.

As a member of the senate who listened to the discussion on sexual harassment last fall, Yanagisako said, she was "understandably very concerned" with the questions that Bae raised about the procedures for investigating and resolving sexual harassment charges.

She asked Casper if the charges ever were brought before the new Sexual Harassment Panel or whether they had been reviewed by Laraine Zappert, Stanford's sexual harassment policy coordinator.

Casper told Yanagisako that the policy had not been in place when the case arose and that the panel had not been appointed by the time the case was decided.

"The case demonstrates the importance I attach to the sexual harassment policy that the Academic Senate finally adopted last October," Casper said. The case "arose in every respect before the new policy became effective."

Elizabeth Traugott, linguistics and a member of the Sexual Harassment Panel, followed up by asking whether the panel would have heard the case had it been in place. She also sought clarification of the relationship between that panel and a separate one at the Medical School.

Casper told her that the policy did not replace ordinary disciplinary procedures already in place in the various schools.

The Sexual Harassment Panel functions, he said, as an optional resource for school or administrative offices responsible for investigating charges and remedying situations where sexual harassment is found. It also is a resource for university grievance officers hearing grievances involving sexual harassment, he said.

Had it existed, "I certainly would have consulted the panel," Casper said. "The whole point about the panel is to permit the university to develop some common bond on these issues."

Terry Karl, political science, told Casper that several days earlier a young woman had come to see her about a sexual harassment issue and said that "she was reluctant to use any of the new policies and procedures because she had read the story that Professor Yanagisako has mentioned."

Karl said that she explained the new procedures to the woman, but said that ways should be found to diminish the chilling effect of cases that predated the new policy.

Casper said he was constrained from making further comments about the case, and Karl nodded in agreement.

Other matters

In other matters, the Committee on Undergraduate Studies recommended that the senate renew authorization for the interdisciplinary program in human biology to nominate bachelor's degree candidates for five years, effective Sept. 1, 1995.

Committee chair David Brady, business and political science, wrote in his report to the senate that the program has responded to concerns expressed by the Humanities and Sciences dean's office about faculty advising and intellectual coherence.

The program was founded in 1969 as a merger of biology and related social science disciplines. As a measure of excellence, the report said that in the last five years, three human biology students have won Rhodes scholarships, two have won Marshall scholarships and one has received a Fulbright. Six have earned Dean's Service Awards, one received the Dean's Award for Academic Achievement and more than 50 have graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

The senate unanimously approved the request.

Brady then presented his committee's proposed course certification list for the 1994-95 distribution requirements.

The Subcommittee on Distribution Requirements this year reviewed in depth the existing and newly nominated courses for area 4, mathematical sciences, and area 5, natural sciences, he said.

This recommendation also was approved unanimously.



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