A Statement for Rehiring Mayli Shing

Content Warning: Sexual Harrassment

November 18. 2018

Mayli Shing, a former employee at Harvard University Health Services, was terminated from her job in February 2018 after reporting sexual and racial harassment for more than two years. After cutting her hours in half without reducing her duties, her boss gave her more tasks than she could complete, and even as she tried to come in early to make sure she could start exactly on time, this was banned. The specific incident cited for her termination was showing up to work 30 minutes before her shift. In the following months, Harvard prevented her from receiving  unemployment benefits, despite her need  to support her two sons, and again has attempted to deprive her of the benefits at a recent Hearing, even after they were finally awarded by the MA Department of Unemployment Assistance.

We know that sexual harassment is a pervasive problem both at Harvard and in the American workplace that too often goes unreported due to deep uncertainty and mistrust that keeps people from coming forward. According to the 2015 Report on the Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct, less than half of female undergraduates and even fewer trans or gender-nonconforming students at Harvard think that campus officials would take a sexual violence report seriously. When these reports of sexual assault are met with retaliation, it only serves to weaken the already shaky trust in the institution meant to protect us. As the world’s leading university, Harvard has a responsibility to take a stand against sexual assault. Fear of retaliation when one bravely speaks out against sexual harassment, as Mayli did, only to be fired without unemployment benefits, is exactly why people do not come forward about sexual harassment, and what allows sexual harassment to persist. This incident does not happen in isolation. Harvard must work harder to prevent workplace harassment and to protect victims of such discrimination.

By staying silent, we tacitly consent to the abuse of power dynamics that corrupts the empowering environment that the UC stands for. Therefore, as student representatives that stand against sexual harassment, racism, and sexism, the Harvard Undergraduate Council stands with organizers including the Student Labor Action Movement, Our Harvard Can Do Better, the Harvard No Layoffs Campaign, and the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, as we support Mayli and call for her reinstatement with full back pay and that Harvard drop its case against her.

It is through support of survivors and allies that we can promote a fair, just, and inclusive Harvard community for all its members.

In solidarity,

The Harvard Undergraduate Council