April 2024Vol.XXXVI No. 4

Bringing It All Back Home

The Editorial Board of the MIT Faculty Newsletter

The events in Gaza, one-third of the way around the world, are impacting our students, our faculty and staff, local City Councils, State Legislatures, and even the US Presidential race. The events are polarizing in all communities, with all sides in pain.

In this issue we include articles that express some of the impacts of Gaza events on lives at MIT. These are in addition to other articles which address Research Security, Commencement, Phi Beta Kappa, reanalysis of faculty voting, and notes from the Faculty Chair.

The presentation regarding the history of the Faculty Newsletter by Professor Jonathan King to the March Institute faculty meeting came about by invitation of Faculty Chair Mary Fuller to speak on the FNL Editorial Board election procedures. An expanded version of a letter previously published in The New York Times from Professors DeGraff and Padilla addresses the general debate over the dimensions of academic free speech. The letter from MIT Jews for Ceasefire expresses their concerns. The letter from an alumnus expresses views of supporters of Israeli policy and criticizes the MIT administration’s and the FNL’s response to charges of antisemitism on campus. The FNL contacted identifiable faculty groups that had voiced related concerns, including members of Faculty for Israel, inviting contributions, but hasn’t received submissions as we go to press. Our pages continue to be open to individual faculty and faculty groups.

Quoting NYU professors Paula Chakravartty and Vasuki Nesiah in their New York Times Op-Ed of April 5: “From the Vietnam War to Apartheid South Africa, universities have been important places for open discussion and disagreement about government policies, the historical record, structural racism and settler colonialism. They have also long served as sites of protest. If the university cannot serve as an arena for such freedoms, the possibilities of democratic life inside and outside the university gates are not only impoverished but also under threat of extinction.”