How 7 Women Helped Put Sexual Harassment on New York’s Agenda

February 14, 2019 AT 7:35 AM

By Vivian Wang

There is an unwritten rule in Albany known as the Bear Mountain Compact, a promise that whatever happens north of Bear Mountain — a vast region that includes the state capital — stays there. For decades, that compact has governed Albany’s private meetings, its raucous fund-raisers, its bars where legislators flock after session.

But on Wednesday, it will be broken when state lawmakers hold their first public hearing on sexual harassment since 1992. Survivors of harassment, and anyone else interested, will have the opportunity to speak directly to the people with the power to address it.

The hearing is the result, in large part, of the Sexual Harassment Working Group, which is made up of seven former legislative employees who say they experienced or reported sexual harassment in Albany.

For the past 11 months, the women — many of whom, until their activism, had not gone back to Albany in years — have been pushing lawmakers to let them tell their stories. For much of those 11 months, they were ignored.

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