Faculty Survey

Faculty Survey on Free Speech

In October 2021, MIT canceled the invitation of UChicago geophycist Dorian Abbot to talk about planetary atmospheres because, regarding college admissions, he argued that personal identity should not supersede merit. The barrage of negative press and public outrage from MIT's cancelling Dr. Abbot led MIT to hold two forums1 2, at which faculty chair Lily Tsai polled faculty attendees on two questions.

More than half responded "Yes" to "Do you feel on an everyday basis that your voice, or the voices of your colleagues, are constrained at MIT?"3

About 80% responded "Yes" to "Are you worried given the current atmosphere in society that your voice or your colleagues' voices are increasingly in jeopardy?"4

That a large majority of polled MIT faculty feels their voices are constrained at MIT reveals a crisis of self-censorship that demands decisive action to reverse.

More recently an independent group of MIT professors has conducted confidential polls among the faculty, including on the faculty practice of self-censorship and their concern over cancel culture. The poll is named The Pulse of the Faculty. While the poll itself and poll results are only available to MIT faculty, the poll concerning speech suppression appears to have been leaked and reported on separately. It indicates that a significant proportion of the faculty are still concerned about retaliation against unfavored speech from the administration, their Deans, their department colleagues, and from students.

on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 and Wednesday, November 3, 2021.

The first forum had about 100-120 faculty attending; the second, for those who could not attend the first, had about 50-60.

At the first meeting, 52% voted yes. At the second, it was 60%.

At the first meeting, 77% voted yes. At the second, it was 79%.