In Support of Science for Liberation, Not Oppression: Vote YES

In the upcoming UA election, undergraduates can vote on Referendum #2, which calls for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, cutting of MIT ties with the Israeli military, and standing in solidarity with student organizers on campus.

To our fellow undergraduates, 

Next week, from March 18 to March 22, there will be a question on the UA ballot to adopt a resolution calling for a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, cutting ties between MIT and the Israeli military, and solidarity with student organizers facing disciplinary threats. This question made it on the ballot because in a ``span of 24 hours, over 600 students (1/8 of the undergraduate population) indicated that they wanted to see this question considered; now, it is time to make our voice heard. 

If Referendum #2 passes, it will become a binding UA resolution, which means if it passes, the referendum becomes adopted by the UA. It unequivocally demonstrates to the MIT administration that our undergraduate community stands in support of liberation for the Palestinian people—not with those in power who continue the violence in Gaza. 

So why vote yes on this question? 

We must call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, Palestine. 

Since October 7th, 2023, Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza has killed an average of 200 Palestinians each day, wiping out entire families. This daily toll is in addition to the 2,270 Palestinians killed by the Israeli military between January 1, 2008 and October 6th, 2023. Since October 7th, Israel’s complete siege of Gaza has forcibly starved Palestinians in the north of Gaza while those in Rafah, a supposed safe zone in the south, are faced with unrelenting bombings and the threat of a ground invasion. In response to these conditions, the United Nations International Court of Justice has found it plausible that Israel’s acts could amount to genocide, and has highlighted the need for an immediate ceasefire. 

Every person deserves to live a life free from oppression. The Israeli siege on Gaza has denied 2.2 million people a life of dignity by denying them freedom of movement, basic food security, educational facilities, medical treatment, access to electricity, and a roof to sleep under. Each day, Palestinians in Gaza face Israeli snipers, air strikes with incendiary white phosphorus and 2,000 pound American-made bombs. Even before the current siege, Palestinians have long been denied their basic dignity by the Israeli occupation. Our siblings in Gaza have endured over 150 days of genocide — it is unconscionable to not take a stand against this wanton violence. 

An immediate, permanent ceasefire is the bare minimum the Palestinian people deserve. Our undergraduate student body here at MIT must join the voices of the numerous faculty, labor unions, cities (including Cambridge), and countries around the world who have already affirmed this need. 

MIT must cut research funding ties with the Israeli military

This resolution is especially crucial at MIT due to the direct institutional ties MIT has with the Israeli military. Since 2008, multiple professors in CSAIL, AeroAstro, DMSE, BioE, and other MIT groups have accepted research funding from the Ministry of Defense of Israel. This allocated funding has gone towards military research projects such as “Autonomous Robotic Swarms” and “Planning and Sensing Algorithms for Underwater Persistent Monitoring.” Furthermore, at least two PIs at MIT have requested to renew their funding with the Israeli Ministry after October 7th, despite mounting evidence that the Israeli military is committing genocide. 

The work that each one of us does – whether in the classroom, during an internship, as a UROP, or in the world after graduation – builds MIT’s reputation. We came to MIT for a variety of reasons, but certainly none of us came here because we wanted to build an institution which is enabling war crimes. As people of conscience, how can we allow our university to produce work that goes towards enabling military atrocities against the Palestinian people? 

Like our predecessors at MIT who organized in the 60s and 70s against the Institute’s role in the Vietnam War, we now are confronted with our own moral reckoning. Our university can no longer produce research that furthers this genocide and oppression against the Palestinian people. MIT has blood on its hands. Rather than consigning ourselves to complicity, we must call for a better society – one where our talents and energies are used in the service of building humanity, not for building bombs. 

MIT must stop attacks against pro-Palestine student organizers. 

For the last five months, students and organizations in the MIT Coalition for Palestine, including the MIT Coalition Against Apartheid (CAA), have continuously spoken out against the genocide in Gaza and MIT’s complicity in this genocide. The MIT administration, in response to pressure from billionaire donors and right-wing politicians, suspended the CAA and sanctioned individual student organizers for their protests on campus based on administrative technicalities, in an effort to appease right-wing forces. 

The policies and rules that the MIT administration is selectively weaponizing against pro-Palestine voices are setting a precedent for how MIT deals with any form of student protest, civil disobedience, or speech that substantially challenges the status quo. The MIT community should retain its right to organize and protest on campus. Our campus has a rich and creative tradition of student protest – a tradition that includes boycotts against on-campus housing costs, die-ins for Black lives, stud occupations for anti-war defectors, and shanty-town displays protesting MIT’s support of South African apartheid

The student movement for Palestine will not waver. We will not allow external political pressures to suppress our community’s collective ability to voice our conscience, as we shoulder the collective responsibility to build a better world. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., let us not use our voice to build an institution that has “guided missiles and misguided men”. Instead, let us vote YES for a ceasefire, YES for ending MIT’s complicity with the Israeli military, and YES for ending the attacks against students on campus that speak up for Palestine. 

Together, let us use our voice to vote YES because we, as an MIT community strive to make science for liberation, not oppression. 

For a better MIT and a free Palestine, 

Science for Liberation Campaign Team:

Undergraduate students, Hannah Didehbani, Amira Ravshanova, and Jonathan Anziani

The full resolution text can be viewed here.