President Sheldon Hackney will present University Council members today with a new definition of harassment in preparation for the long-awaited release of a new racial harassment policy. The definition of harassment, which will form the core of the revised racial harassment policy, has been debated in Council and throughout the University since the president announced plans to revise the current guidelines last spring. Most of the discussion has centered on finding a balance between the University's commitment to open expression and the protection of racial minorities. In the current policy, which many students and faculty have said is too vague, harassment consists of behavior that causes a threat to a person's academic or work status, interferes with the person's academic or work performance or creates an intimidating or offensive academic, work, or living environment. Last October, Hackney released a draft policy with a narrowed definition of harassment. It said that an act would be considered harassment if it "villifies and offends" a person as determined by a three-part test. It must be intended to "demean, insult or stigmatize" a person on the basis of race, be addressed to the person or group to whom it refers, and make use of "fighting words" -- intended to incite violence -- or their non-verbal equivalents. Faculty, staff and students blasted the draft almost unanimously, saying it would not protect victims of harassment. Minority leaders said the proposed definition of harassment would make it easy for people to disguise offensive intentions. Hackney said last semester the proposal released in October was not intended as a final draft, but was only released for University comment. The president could not be reached for comment yesterday, but Stephen Steinberg, an assistant to President Hackney who has worked on the new policy, said yesterday Hackney plans to release the final draft by the end of this semester. Steinberg said he can not predict how Council members will respond to the proposed definition. "This is an issue with . . . widely divergent views," Steinberg said. "Whether we can reach any consensus is hard to say." Council members will also discuss Hackney's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 1992, which will be presented to students and faculty in two separate sessions today. Budget Director Stephen Goulding said yesterday the president will outline the steps the University will take to make up for Governor Robert Casey's proposed $18.6 million budget cuts. Goulding said he expects there to be some discussion about the impact of the cuts and the University's budget.Comments powered by Disqus
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