In the months since the bubble burst, MIT could have taken a nonpartisan position that attempted to broaden the community’s perspective and to encourage disappointed students to make the best out of the situation. Instead, MIT’s unproductive official response has reconstructed the divisive bubble and alienated many on campus.
Donald Trump will be the first president to completely disregard data and blatantly devalue expert judgment. If the MIT administration wants to justify its decision to engage in its fight against climate change, then this is the opportune moment to do it.
Growing up in India, we often came across “Hijras,” people who we understood were somehow labeled as different.
The growth of mobile devices and the apps that fuel them has been followed by a decline in browsers, locking more and more of the Internet into silos controlled by giant corporations that love “disruption” when they're the ones doing it, but not so much when they’re the ones being disrupted. The browser ecosystem is weaker than it’s ever been, and that’s made it ripe for predation — and you’ll find no better example of it than something happening under MIT’s own roof.
Over the course of 2010-2011, while I was a graduate student at MIT, I struggled to find help with harassment. I encountered both bureaucratic ineptitude and a culture of denial and silence that made the situation needlessly difficult for me, my advisor, and others in my lab. I am writing because I hope that by sharing my experience and insights into how MIT’s system can fail, I can help those working to improve it. While I understand that there have been some changes on campus since I graduated three years ago, I think MIT still needs to improve the way it handles harassment on campus.
The very first class I attended at MIT was 7.012, four and a half years ago in the fall of 2011. I remember how excited my fellow freshmen felt in Maseeh dining that morning, how tightly the Infinite was packed with students finding new classrooms, and how crowded 26-100 was once my friends and I got there. But looking back on that first class, I cannot actually recall much of what the professor said. Or really much from any other 7.012 lecture. Or from 18.02 lectures that fall or 5.111 lectures the following spring. Why is that? I have a fairly good memory, and in four years it shouldn’t seem reasonable for me to forget the material. I suspect that I don’t remember what was taught in these three classes because all of them were rigid lecture-based classes. Although these were core freshman science classes, there was little to no student engagement through hands-on learning.
Earlier this week, members of the MIT community found in their inboxes an email from Chancellor Barnhart. Immediately beneath the ominous subject line of “Alcohol abuse, illegal drugs and our community” were the expected exhortations against binge drinking and drug use. This time, however, these words came backed by evidence. To quote the email, “The results of the 2015 Healthy Minds Study and 2014 Community Attitudes on Sexual Assault survey show the direct — and negative — links between substance abuse and student health and safety.” Included helpfully were also hyperlinks to these two studies, as well as one to the MIT “Statement on Drug-free Campus and Workplace Policies,” which contains, among other things, a list of “selected drugs and their effects.” In short, a bevy of material to support a seemingly obvious claim.
MIT is home to a large number of international students on F-1 student visas. In the 2014-2015 academic year, 42 percent of the graduate student body was composed of international students. Most of these students apply for the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program after graduation in order to work in the U.S. in their field of study. Every international student who completes a post-secondary degree in the U.S. on an F-1 visa is eligible for 12 months of OPT. Since 2008, those who complete a degree in a STEM field have also qualified for a one-time 17-month extension of OPT. This extension, however, was recently challenged in court by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, and this August, the District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the STEM OPT Extension on the grounds of procedural deficiency. The court order is set to take effect in February 2016.
We write from the office doorstep of MIT’s President, where on October 22, we began a sit-in in response to the President’s announcement of MIT’s Plan for Action on Climate Change (hereafter ‘Plan’). As President Reif acknowledged, the Plan originally “emerged in response to” Fossil Free MIT’s ongoing call, since April 2013, for MIT to divest its now $13.5 billion endowment from fossil fuel companies. Here, we share our take on MIT’s Plan and explain why it has left us no choice but to respectfully plant ourselves, around-the-clock, along MIT’s corridor of power to call for a bolder approach.
Last month, the MIT Center for International Studies hosted a talk by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Raised a Muslim, she witnessed abuse of women in Muslim communities. She renounced her religion and became an activist for women’s rights. Her criticisms of Islam led to death threats, and her courage was recognized by several awards. Her latest book, Heretic, calls for a fundamental reformation of Islam.
Over the past year, there has been discussion about transitioning MIT fraternities and sororities stationed in Boston into a “Greek Village” located on West Campus grounds in Cambridge. This concept of an FSILG Village has moved quickly amongst FSILG officials and MIT administrators but has not gained support within the actual Greek community. According to a survey reported on by The Tech, “Of 80 total alumni and student representatives, only five alumni ‘expressed high interest in the project,’ and only five students thought it was at all likely that their living group would be willing to move into an FSILG village.”