Opinion letter to the editor

Alumnus on the sources of MIT’s donations

To the editors,

What would it take for MIT to end its reliance on problematic, ultra-rich donors? Gifts make up a relatively small 10 percent of MIT’s total revenue and are used for scholarships, fellowships, professorships, research, educational programming, student life activities, and building construction and renovation. In fiscal year 2019, gifts and pledges totaled $602.1 million. MIT has 137,765 living alumni, but only 33 percent of them donate to MIT. If every alumnus donated $4,370 per year, equivalent to 4.9 percent of the mean starting salary for graduates with an SB degree, MIT would not need to take large contributions from the likes of Epstein, Schwarzman, and Koch.

Numerous student and faculty groups have petitioned the administration for change in recent years, including women faculty, UnKoch MIT, MIT Students Against War, MIT KSA, undergraduate women, LGBTQ+ students, Fossil Free MIT, Black Students Union, and Black Graduate Student Association. Despite some progress, most recommendations remain unmet. If MIT were serious about making a better world, it would start at home with these community concerns, and perhaps alumni would be proud to donate to an institution they believed was truly committed to its mission.

Brian Gilligan ’17 (SB) and ’19 (SM)