Harvard University is committed to the safety and wellbeing of every member of its community, including ensuring an environment that is free of discrimination and harassment, and one where every individual has the opportunity to succeed. Over the past several years, the University has taken significant steps to strengthen the resources devoted to addressing and preventing harassment and discrimination.
HGSU-UAW has stated that at the top of their priorities is having the University agree to the creation of an independent arbitration process for discrimination and harassment cases. The current HGSU-UAW proposal would make available to its bargaining unit members a labor arbitration process as either an alternative to the University’s current Title IX and Office of Dispute Resolution process or in addition to the University’s process.
The University is opposed to HGSU-UAW’s proposal, based on key concerns:
It creates an inequitable process for students, inconsistent with federal Title IX regulations.
An arbitration process available to bargaining unit members would carve out those student workers as having a separate process not available to all others. Some students would be able to have their discrimination claim pursued to arbitration on their behalf by the union while others in the community would not. This is inconsistent with both current and proposed Title IX regulations that require an equitable process, including an equitable investigation conducted by a trained investigator. Arbitration is not an investigation, nor does an arbitrator serve as an investigator.
It forces complainants and respondents into cross-examination.
A standard labor arbitration process, as HGSU-UAW has proposed, would potentially subject any individual who is a complainant or respondent, and witnesses, to a cross-examination setting, whether they are members of the bargaining unit or not. The University (and UAW International) has written in opposition to the proposed U.S. Department of Education regulations, in part due to concerns over this type of cross examination.
It does not punish offenders.
An independent arbitrator would have no authority to impose sanctions or punishment on individuals found to have violated the University’s Title IX policies.
The University has policies and procedures in place to ensure that matters related to discrimination and harassment are dealt with appropriately, in compliance with the University’s policies and the law, and that we are doing all we can to protect all students, as well as every member of our community. While recent changes have strengthened our procedures, we agree there is more work to do on this front. To that end, the University has proposed specific opportunities for HGSU-UAW to have an important role in the process for strengthening those policies and procedures:
Seats for HGSU-UAW representatives on the currently-existing Title IX Policy Review Committee, a University-wide mechanism that represents the interests of the entire Harvard community, including faculty, staff and students.
Seats on two to-be-established committees that will make recommendations on University policies and procedures for addressing other forms of discrimination and misconduct.
Contractual protections against retaliation of any sort for pursuing claims of discrimination.
A contractual guarantee that no student worker should be pressured by University officials to accept informal resolution of their complaint or interim measures in place of filing and pursuing a formal complaint.
A contractual guarantee that an "impartial and unbiased panel" will be available to hear any appeals from complainants or respondents regarding the final report of an investigatory team.
- A statement of current policy that all faculty, staff and students will be required to take training in sexual and gender-based harassment.