Gaza - MIT Administration Messaging

MIT Administration Messaging

Throughout this crisis, the MIT administration has issued statements commenting on the Middle East controversy and its impact on the MIT community. MIT maintains a web page which gives its viewpoint and provides updates regarding events on campus, sharing relevant policies, and correcting misinformation.

President Kornbluth issued a video statement to the MIT community on October 10th condemning the Hamas attack on Israel, lamenting the Israeli response, and urging calm and respectful behavior on campus. In another video statement on October 21st, she reiterated her support for free speech at MIT but stated that some behavior is disrespectful, and better conduct is required by the community.

Vice Chancellor and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson issued a statement on October 12th reminding the MIT community about its shared values, pointing out behavior that is improper under those values and which may be violations of MIT policies, and giving tips for how students can assure their personal safety.

Following the demonstrations in the Building 7 Lobby on November 9th, President Kornbluth issued a statement the same day explaining that the initial policy of suspending rule-breaking students would be modified to suspension from non-academic activities. On November 14, she issued an Update on the Events of November 9. This included a video by President Kornbluth; the transcript of the video was also provided.

In her November 14 statement, President Kornbluth charged Chancellor Melissa Nobles to lead a new commission called Standing Together Against Hate to combat antisemitism at MIT. The charter was later expanded to include combating Islamophobia at MIT. This initiative is separate from the previous symbolic initiatives for standing "together against hate" in May 2022 following the mass shooting targeting blacks in Buffalo, NY, and for "standing together against violence and hate" targeting the LGBTQ community in June 2016.

Both the MIT Corporation and the leaders of the MIT faculty issued letters giving their unreserved support for President Kornbluth (on December 7th and 11th). Dozens of MIT department heads, deans, and senior faculty leaders signed a letter supporting President Sally Kornbluth on December 12th. The Board of Directors of the MIT Alumni Association also issued their support for President Kornbluth on December 14th.

As part of a larger statement discussing new steps for a new year to move beyond the controversies from the Israel-Hamas war, President Kornbluth established a new Committee on Academic Freedom and Campus Expression (CAFCE). This committee reports directly to the President and the Chair of the Faculty. It is charged to examine specific policies, procedures and disciplinary processes to promote both freedom of expression and responsible behavior throughout the MIT community.

As the MIT prepared to return to the campus and regular classes following IOP, the Provost, Cynthia Barnhart, and the Chancellor, Melissa Nobles, issued a statement on January 31, 2024, reminding the community of the ground rules for student conduct. Their statement mirrored a letter sent directly to students the same day by Suzy Nelson, the Vice Chancellor and Dean for Student Life.

Despite the warning from the MIT administration, the MIT Committee Against Apartheid (CAA) staged an unauthorized demonstration in the Building 7 Lobby on February 12th. The next day in a video (and its accompanying transcript), President Kornbluth announced sanctions against CAA and its members.

Following the establishment of a tent encampment outside Kresge on April 21st that violated MIT's time, place, and manner rules, President Kornbluth issued a video (and an accompanying transcript) on April 27th that noted that the encampment violated MIT's rules and that its presence was impeding the essential operation of the Institute. On the same day she also issued an open letter to the community noting that the leaders of the encampment were not negotiating in good faith to close it.

President Kornbluth issued an open letter to the community on May 6th announcing that the unauthorized protest encampment would be shut down after 2:30pm. She announced a range of consequences for students who do not comply with the shut down order, up to immediate, full suspension for students who are already the subject of a disciplinary procedure.

President Kornbluth issued an open letter to the community on May 10th explaining her rationale for enlisting law enforcement to shut down the Kresge protest encampment earlier that day.

The MIT Provost, Cynthia Barnhart, and the Chancellor, Melissa Nobles, sent a letter to the MIT community on May 13th pointing out a new FAQ page created to address questions and misperceptions following the recent events, including the clearing of the protest encampment, and the resulting disciplinary actions. They promised to update the FAQ page as needed.