The Naval Academy Takes Sexual-Harassment Charges Seriously

Regarding the front-page article "Sexual Harassment Scandal Rocks US Navy Into Reform," June 18: In most stories dealing with the Tailhook Convention and the ensuing Navy reforms, the Naval Academy's urinal-chaining incident is added to the list of sins. That's accurate: what happened in the aftermath of Gwen Dreyer's May 1990 resignation was a watershed for the academy much as Tailhook is, as Lt. Mary Hanson said, a watershed for the Navy.

What is not accurate is the author's lumping the academy's sexual harassment problems in with the "string of sexual harassment incidents in recent months." Gwen Dreyer was humiliated in December 1989, more than two and a half years ago. In those two and half years, progress has been made.

I hope that the academy will not be linked carelessly forever to other sexual harassment incidents or that if it is, the linking be done accurately and fairly. From my limited perspective as a former academy spokeswoman - the bulk of my two-year tenure was during the Dreyer crisis - the academy looks to be a better place now for both women and men.

The Navy and the Naval Academy seem to be taking the sexual-harassment issues seriously; "zero tolerance" really means something in the military. But training, lectures, and fitness reports are only a small part of the larger picture.

What would improve conditions for women most rapidly is lifting gender-based restrictions on service - lift the restriction limiting the female population of the academy to 10 percent, for example. Even more important, allow women to compete for top jobs in what have been exclusively men's arenas, and may the best person win. Carol Mason Feldmann, Annapolis, Md.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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