November/December 2023Vol. XXXVI No. 2

Sending MIT Students to War with Water Pistols

James H. Williams, Jr.

I am strolling along my wormhole – a hypothetical cylinder from the theory of general relativity that is a topological shortcut between different points in spacetime, say a tunnel that connects the past and the present – intermittently looking toward opposite directions. At one end, it’s the 1960s; at the other, it’s 2023.

Undergraduate Diversity at MIT2023

In the mid-1960s, when I was an MIT undergraduate, the total number of native-born black American undergraduates in the entire student body was ~15. At the MIT Commencement of 1967, I was the only black graduate who had begun four years earlier. Contrast those numbers with the freshman MIT Class of 2027 of approximately 1092 students of which “Black/African Americans” comprise 15%; that is, a current lot of ~164 students, many of whom are surely going to war with a water pistol.

On June 29, 2023, the US Supreme Court held that college admissions policies enhanced by affirmative action were unconstitutional, legally ending the practice. The High Court’s affirmative action ruling was right-wing, and right-on: concluding that university affirmative action programs violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.

I support the Supreme Court’s decision – at least, concerning MIT – because I have felt for decades that, by admitting more native-born black American undergraduates than MIT is willing to educate to an academically elite level, affirmative action admissions have undermined the psychological and intellectual growth of technologically capable black undergraduates and, by extension, have failed to develop some of the most gifted high-tech youth in all of American society.

A Request of MIT’s Executive Administration

To MIT’s new executive administration, in the midst of its first fall semester, I ask: Do you have plans to educate and care for this newly arrived group of black undergraduates? Have you examined the academic progress, graduation rates, subsequent admissions to outstanding graduate programs, and resultant careers of black undergraduates of recent decades to inform your current and forthcoming admissions decisions? If not, why not?

During the past several decades, by recruiting the arguably most technologically capable collection of black American college undergraduates, MIT has failed to live up to its commitment to them. MIT has devised virtually no successful plans to educate them to an academically elite level.

If MIT had not recruited them, they could have attended the nominal “Big State University” or one of the historically black colleges or universities, become highly successful and valued graduates of those programs, and gained admissions to the best graduate and professional degree programs in the US and beyond.

Hence, we might argue that for nothing more than its own egotistical ambitions, MIT has robbed black American society of the presumed leadership of some of its most gifted young people. Let’s be clear. Greater fault lies in the recruiter than in the recruited; especially if the recruited ultimately obtains a marginally adequate bachelor’s degree or no degree at all.

Concerning the quality of the academic success of black undergraduates at and after MIT, I have looked informally and I have been immensely concerned by what I’ve seen. However, my offhand investigations, though significant and revealing, cannot qualify as thorough examinations of the data, which are likely to be substantially available only to the executive administration of MIT.

Thus, the dillydallying by the MIT administrative leadership on this important academic task of evaluation should cease: Damage to the dozens is rapidly becoming damage to the hundreds. If you are able to show (or know) that our students graduate at a level that is equal to a comparable academic level (or higher) at which they entered, that would be terrific. If that is not so, you should know that, too.

Out of respect for the Institute I cherish, I shall not offer here many of the questions I have compiled and the corresponding quantitative data I have consolidated. The data are personal and can be identifiably associated directly with individuals within our community. Nevertheless, the data supporting my position are compelling! And my primary question is: Why? Why has MIT dumped black students into soil in which so many of them cannot thrive or even grow?

Affirmative Action

The term “affirmative action” was first widely used in the United States in the early 1960s. President John F. Kennedy used affirmative action in an executive order to promote non-discriminatory pay and employment, with deliberate neutrality regarding race, religion, or gender. Qualifications to perform were assumed to be met by all applicants. Thus, affirmative action was designed to ensure equal employment opportunity, not to create diversity in the workplace or universities.

With its overseeing Corporation of more than six dozen individuals, a daily functioning administration of hundreds, and its Office of General Counsel comprised of more than a dozen attorneys and staff, MIT – after adopting a policy toward social and political admissions – should have long since addressed the educational benefits of diversity without reference to affirmative action, and ultimately defining diversity in whatever heterogeneity goals it sought.

Thus, the likelihood of the Supreme Court affirmative action decision announced last June should have been foreseen and the potential legal consequences eliminated decades ago. Nonetheless, as observed in several post-decision analyses, the opinion of Chief Justice John Roberts in this case provides adequate leeway through appraisals of each applicant’s life experiences for satisfying diversity goals of MIT.

Psychological Effects of Affirmative Action on Blacks

In several ways, black students at MIT are frequently told that affirmative action is partly, or even wholly, responsible for their presence here. Through Institute media, a major offender in this practice at MIT is the central administration. I believe untold damage has been done to MIT black undergraduates for decades by telling them from the outset that they are intellectually inferior, thus in need of affirmative action after they arrive on campus. What could be more telling than an Office of Minority Education along MIT’s Infinite Corridor?

I have been told by MIT black undergraduates that they have been assailed by the jealous chatter of high school mates, hometown neighbors, and the public at-large who cite affirmative action as a substantial basis for their admissions into MIT.

Affirmative action has benefitted several groups, especially women, though black students have carried a disproportionate share of the political and psychological load.

Additionally, I presently sense greater emotional distance between black undergraduates and black faculty than I can ever recall. Where is the joy we used to feel when black undergraduates were far fewer and more cohesive, when we collaborated academically and celebrated socially? There was a time when black student and black faculty interactions seemed less corporate and more personal than they do today. I believe black undergraduates need to feel in a visceral way that black faculty are an understanding resource who know and value them.

I cannot recall the number of times – even when I was the only native-born black American professor in the combined School of Engineering and School of Science at MIT – that I have been called an “affirmative action case.” Clearly there have been and may continue to exist significant numbers of whites who believe that no black person should be a faculty member at MIT. In this matter, as related to me by my decades-long mentors, instead of considering my engineering accomplishments, individuals on award committees found interests in that part of my personal life that sold popular magazines and especially my unwillingness to be one of their Uncle Toms.

My MIT Student Years

As 1 of ~ 4 black American freshmen, I entered MIT in 1963, a few days after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I was in the midst of my apprenticeship as a machinist and mechanical designer at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in my hometown in Virginia. Both Shipyard and local news print media would continue to cite my apprenticeship performance for decades, into the 21st century.

Notwithstanding my endeavors to the contrary, I had no MIT friendships, and when multi-person partnerships were required in my lab subjects, other students had to be coaxed by the professor to include me. Within my first semester, I became aware that many students had the benefit of MIT Bibles: compiled files of subject homework problems and solutions, copies of former course quizzes and their solutions, and recycled manuscripts of humanities papers. I had no access to those resources, notably for graded homework assignments, or the study groups that used them for a range of assignments and exam preparations. The North was as racially isolating as the South – and more isolating professionally.

For recreation and relaxation, I drove my Corvette into Boston, notably to the Rainbow Lounge and Big Jim’s for camaraderie, jazz, and occasionally sitting in; and to several other businesses for soul food, a haircut, a manicure, or whatever else I needed. Typically, once or twice per semester, following a late lunch at the F&T Restaurant, I would drive overnight to Newport News to enjoy my mother’s crab cakes and, if the trip included a weekday at home, consult at the Shipyard where my desk was maintained for my use – a unique degree of professional respect for me that was preserved throughout my academic leave. During the spring term, on the last weekend of April, I would cut Friday classes and stop over in Philadelphia for an afternoon with local buddies at the Penn Relays, moist eyes and all. On those occasions, my mother would have our two-story house fully lit both inside and outside, with warm edibles in the oven, in anticipation of her son’s arrival around midnight.

The quality of the MIT classroom instruction, especially in the Institute Requirements, was regularly poor-to-mixed, not always comprehensible, and often incompatible with subsequent quizzes and examinations. When performing homework, I would discover intrinsic analytical steps that had been omitted during the lecturer’s notes-to-chalkboard presentations, thus denying each student the potential insight of the generalization of solution structures. During such subjects, if I sought after-lecture clarifications, I was typically blown-off sufficiently rudely by the lecturer – both faculty and non-faculty teachers – that I stopped asking questions. Interestingly, I detested but sloughed off such crudeness without hurt feelings: I was at MIT to learn, not to feel; and certainly not to create trouble.

Within the first few lectures of each subject, I decided the grade I would earn, which I generally achieved. Based on (a) my interests in the syllabus, (b) the quality of the instruction, (c) the homework demands on my time, (d) whether there was assigned correlated reading, and (e) the anticipated burden of competing against inaccessible bibles and closed student study groups, I chose to carefully manage my time. Besides, no one – friends, family, sponsors – ever asked me about the grades I earned.

In my sophomore year, within the Department of Mechanical Engineering (MechE), I encountered a faculty of pioneering academics, consulting engineers, and personally generous professors whose legacies continue to be reflected in many aspects of the Department, including the current faculty. More than any other mechanical engineering faculty on the planet, they were the men who defined the fundamentals and the formulations of the modern mechanical engineering curriculum, now being contemporized through computation, artificial and biomechanical intelligence, and innovative scientific collaborations.

As I began to take engineering subjects in my primary interests of theoretical and applied mechanics, following lectures I would pursue clarifications and amplifications with professors for depth and extension. I sensed at the time and learned for sure in later years that those professors, several of whom became my professorial mentors, had respected the expanse and quality of my interests, questions, and knowledge beyond the curriculum. As an undergraduate, I was encouraged to take the graduate elasticity subject offered by the Mathematics Department. To the exclusion of my undergraduate subjects, each week I spent hours in the Barker Engineering Library reading, but not fully comprehending, graduate-level textbooks and contemporary technical journals in applied mechanics. And later as a graduate student, in the MechE graduate subject of applied elasticity, I earned the top grade on every quiz and the final exam; facts which I was surprised to learn in later years had been known and repeated among the mechanics faculty, and which they thoughtfully communicated to my oncoming Cambridge University research professor.

During the week preceding the 1967 MIT Commencement, one of my MechE professors discovered that I was about to leave MIT, headed west to graduate school. Through a series of impromptu meetings initiated and organized by several MechE professors over a couple of days, and without my submitting a graduate school application or a funding request, I was fully financially supported and began my Master’s degree program in Mechanical Engineering on the Monday following Commencement.

Having satisfied all the academic requirements for my SM degree by late 1967, in March 1968 at the personal appeal of the executive management of the Shipyard, I moved to Newport News to conduct the design stress and dynamical analyses of the power and propulsion shafting and several other major structural systems on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz – to become the lead ship of America’s new class of supercarriers – whose keel I would witness being laid down in June.

In September 1968, I was off for my doctorate at Cambridge University, where I would arrive with the gift of a reputation communicated by my former MIT MechE professors and where I would become the beneficiary of an additional set of extraordinarily affable professional relationships with several renowned faculty.

Affirmative Action Admissions: MIT 1970-Style

In the late 1960s, MIT’s executive administration chose to join the collegiate affirmative action admissions fraternity. (I cannot discuss the “whys” because I do not know them as I was a graduate student in England at the time, but I can discuss the “whats” because I would soon become involved.)

In an MIT freshman class of about 1100 students, MIT decided to increase the number of black students from ~ 4 per year to ~ 40 per year. Where would these students with MIT admissions credentials be found? Then, in a moment of arrogance followed by years of delusion, the MIT administration decided to create these students during the summer between high school and MIT.

The pre-freshman Interphase Program – variously described by MIT administrative literature as “a rigorous seven-week pre-freshman summer program to instill subject mastery of calculus, physics, and chemistry” – was created to perform the proposed transformation.

In 1970, my reception as an assistant professor onto the MIT Mechanical Engineering faculty was immensely cordial, both personally and professionally, just as it had been during my undergraduate and graduate years. The willingness of my senior colleagues to intensely debate me privately while simultaneously supporting me publicly established lifelong intimate friendships. The racism toward me that they repeatedly encountered, fought, and revealed to me in their efforts to honor me beyond the confines of MIT seemed to hurt them – occasionally divulged with moisture in their eyes, which deeply touched me – but led to more intense intimacy and trust between us, as they reassured me that I was seeing only the tip of the racism they were observing. I have honored their trust by never revealing names they cited.

During my first year on the faculty, I was asked by the MIT administration to lead Interphase. Despite the advice of my senior faculty mentors and the MechE Department Head to the contrary, for several years I taught or variously advised Interphase beginning in the summer of 1971, unwisely risking my own career by delaying the writing of several of my publications and funding proposals. (Fortunately for me, my mentors never learned that during that period I was simultaneously involved in a middle-school math tutoring program conducted in the basement of a Roxbury church.)

I immediately sensed that many of those Interphase students possessed neither an inquisitive mindset and goals nor the academic preparation to thrive in the intense culture of MIT’s world-class academics. Interphase was simply not enough to ensure the students’ successful transition into MIT.

I was astonished to learn that a few of them had barely heard of MIT. In response, I devoted a portion of my introductory calculus and physics lectures to the culture, intensity, and history of MIT. Directly following Interphase, without advising words of wisdom or a system of solacing support, those students were released into the MIT undergraduate culture which I had recently experienced.

By late September in the freshman years of the students whom I had taught each previous summer, I made concerted efforts to interact with them. (Confronting the environment that I had faced – no access to bibles, sometimes no lab partners, and no invitations to join student study groups – those students were in for rough, humiliating rides.) When I sensed academic difficulties, I suggested Saturday morning chats in my office. Those chats quickly became free-flowing elementary calculus and physics tutorials, often occupying available classrooms when my tiny office became overcrowded. My unconfirmed hope was that those Saturday morning tutorials would make, at least, a little difference. However, the personal acts of my caring likely made a greater impact than my math and science tutorials.

I felt annoyed, frustrated, and saddened by my unvoiced prognosis that many of those former Interphase students would not succeed at MIT. And, indeed, many of them left MIT, ashamed, bewildered, and without a degree. This was an annual heartbreaking humiliation for black undergraduates at MIT, and it went on year after year.

Task Force on Minority Student Achievement

Toward the end of last century, notwithstanding a measure of beneficial academic support for MIT black undergraduates that had emerged over the years, my concerns for the academic, cultural, and psychological health of a meaningful number of black students were aggravating me. I concluded that the academic performance of black undergraduates deserved administrative evaluation, which might suggest an initial line of action for an improved MIT environment for black undergraduates.

In winter 2000, during one of my private crab fests with MIT President Charles M. Vest, in addition to guiding him through the distinguishing textures and tastes of Dungeness, Blue, and Rock Crab, I shared my concerns for the academic underperformance of black undergraduates. In June 2000, President Vest devised the Task Force on Minority Student Achievement, which was charged with “assessing and reviewing whether gaps exist between predicted and actual academic performance of MIT minority students and, if so, to identifying the reasons for the gaps and recommending strategies to address the issue(s).” I was one of about a dozen members of the faculty and administrative staff publicly appointed to the Task Force in September 2000.

In spring 2001, during a meeting of the Task Force, attended by President Vest and his administrative assistant as invited guests, I took the unrequested initiative to make a two-point presentation.

  1. I presented two graphs of black undergraduate academic performance that I had produced – constructed from data files available to all members of the Task Force – that revealed the validity of my concerns regarding the academic underperformance of black undergraduates.
  2. I argued that although we – faculty and staff – should invariably devote our best efforts to support every resident student, we often spend time and resources sustaining students whom we should never have admitted. We should admit fewer, the most talented, students and develop them to a superb level at which they will be genuinely welcomed into the best graduate programs and, later, competed for as faculty at elite universities and as leaders at corporations as well as other prestigious institutions.

The resulting intense and garishly boisterous reactions from one or two Task Force members were jolting and no doubt shocking to most of the individuals in attendance. Moreover and subsequently, no one had the decency or the guts to inform me that I had been ejected from the Task Force; I simply stopped receiving announcements of ensuing meetings.

Report of the Task Force on Minority Student Achievement

The Task Force on Minority Student Achievement wrote a report during the winter of 2002. In March 2002, I wrote a five-page commentary entitled “It’s Official! MIT Minority Students Are Inferior,” in which I characterized a number of the points in the Task Force Report, as well as offered my own Task Force conclusions. I have chosen not to publish my commentary; however, I gave a copy to President Vest, including the two graphs of black undergraduate academic performance that I presented during his spring 2001 Task Force visit, all with no restrictions by me on his use of them. I shall hereby summarize the most disquieting recommendations in the Task Force Report that I read.

The Task Force Report advocated that black undergraduates who had been admitted to MIT – arguably one of the most intellectually endowed black undergraduate populations in the United States – were so unprepared that they should be brought to MIT for remediation (their word, my emphasis) and racially-based academic support, perhaps throughout their entire undergraduate years at MIT. Moreover, the recommended racially-based academic support would be supervised by the MIT administration, not the faculty (their words, my emphasis). Depending on the substance and implementation of the proposed programs of remediation and racially-based academic support, I found the Task Force’s meetings and recommendations to be chained to an insulting and sickening mindset which regards blacks not only as inferior, but as permanently so.

Summarizing My Primary Goals

I endorse the US Supreme Court’s June 29, 2023 ruling to disallow the use of affirmative action in the undergraduate admissions of MIT. My endorsement is based on my belief that MIT affirmative action policies during the past half-century have been academically, psychologically, and economically damaging to native-born black American undergraduates and by extension to black American society.

Much of the data to challenge the bases of my endorsement and to assess my hypothesis are available to the central administration of MIT and should be compared with models of equivalent pre-college student(s).

During my time as a faculty member and housemaster at MIT, I have taken several hundred undergraduates of numerous ethnicities, ideologies, and persuasions to lunch. In addition to my academic advisees and students in my classes, numerous other undergraduates and postgraduates would stop by my office, tell me that they had heard of me, and then ask me to take them, and perhaps a friend or two, to lunch.

MIT undergraduates are intellectually sharp. Many of them are aware of the drift within the freshman Institute Requirements although they have personally witnessed only a small portion of that drift. They convinced me that the poor quality of the Institute Requirements was the primary reason for several changes in the first-year undergraduate experience, including the Pass/No Record grading system and a loss of class unification. They enjoy academic topics that are challenging, but they despise being confused by sloppy instruction.

An outstanding, important, and continuing example of the Institute’s ability to respond over a long-term and in a major manner is the improvement of the universal discipline of teaching. Obvious examples abound in classroom teaching, but undergraduate teaching in all its facets has greatly improved since my undergraduate years. These improvements have been diligently sought, notably cited, and encouraged by the substantial number of Institute accolades, distinctions, medals, plaques, prizes, and trophies: all distinctively residing alongside the incomparable student-controlled Everett Moore Baker Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the central administration’s most-prized Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellowships.

Nevertheless, there are specific means and modes – which I shall not explore here – whereby these teaching and learning improvements have not penetrated and thus have not benefitted all student communities at MIT.

Early in my faculty career, student praise of my teaching was the only benefit I could see from my numerous curricula uphill battles, during which I combated the remarks of resentful engineering and non-engineering colleagues who mocked my style and challenged each innovation in my presentations. Every lecture I gave throughout my MIT career was delivered in suit or sport coat and tie. I used no hand-held lecture notes, which reassured students but was portrayed as “theatric” by some colleagues. When my annually published teaching rankings for undergraduate and graduate subjects were consistently among the top few of all MIT professors, I was accused by my contemporaneous junior faculty of “spoon feeding.” Then, when a common final exam was adopted to cover multiple undergraduate recitation sections, and my students repeatedly earned a disproportionately high fraction of the A-grades, those same teaching colleagues began to characterize my teaching as “showing off.” And, when I integrated corresponding historical developments into my mathematical presentations, my teaching was declared to be “diversionary.” I could not discern which part of my colleagues’ foolishness was jealousy and which part of their foolishness was racism, so I left it all on the scrap heap where it belonged.

My self-confidence and intellectual autonomy – born in my intensely loving and supportive family, please and thank you, use of the proper fork, and no deferential bowing to anyone; conformed in my racially segregated youth; and hardened in my laidback independence of early adulthood – led me to choose my path as I designed and pursued it. My primary commitment to myself was to engage the world with elegance, excellence, and unequivocal verve. Whatever strengths my words and style contained were more powerful because students knew that my message was meant for them, all of them; and that I lived by that philosophy, without fear of failure or repercussions. Students saw and embraced this; and I was amused that insecure adults and social climbers showed themselves as baffled and begrudging of my taste, lifestyle, and frequent appearances in popular media!

Almost daily, I gratefully reflect on the emotional and intellectual care my senior colleagues and mentors at MIT showered upon me as a student and junior colleague. Moreover, throughout my career I have asked staff of arbitrary race and ethnicity, in every imaginable service and support activity, their names because I wanted to hear their names, to hear them speak. And though we rarely engaged in extended conversation, we respected our different journeys and recognized the intercultural and interracial engagements we seemed to enjoy at the intersections of our daily crossroads involving servicing, working, and living at MIT.

All the same, in many corners the racism at MIT today is as deep as the outright bigotry I encountered here during the 1960s, except that the current racism is concealed in counterfeit social and professional demeanor. I call this “whispering racism.”

I continue to applaud former MIT President L. Rafael Reif for his bold statement: “Addressing Systemic Racism at MIT,” email, July 1, 2020. Unfortunately, to avoid counter claims of oversensitivity, the best that one can do in response to the whispers is to disregard the chatter until one moves on, the gossipmongers move on, or the situation quietly explodes.

More recently, the August 4, 2023 MIT search announcement for a vice president for equity and inclusion is a potentially important undertaking of unification. But, unification of what? (By “what,” I am asking whether there is an unarticulated vision of opportunity or prospective achievement in this and many of these other passive hirings.) And whom will this new vice president for equity and inclusion represent?

Whereas the Institute Community and Equity Office has been fortunate in recent years to have had a superb Special Advisor, a duplication of other recently departed Institute Community and Equity personnel would be a shameful disaster, ripping constantly at the weak and disgracefully timid fabric of MIT’s minority community. I have reasons, unstated here, to fear and strongly detest duplication by some potential candidates and administrative wannabes. There is a widespread perception that many minority hires at MIT have been more concerned with currying favor with their administrative superiors than with offering the blunt advice and discordant assessments that are, at times, sorely needed. MIT leadership must not hire a replacement without consulting all MIT black faculty, without thereby seeking out and promoting new and challenging voices.

Even so, my primary concern here is the ~164 black MIT freshmen and their so-called “remediation,” perhaps conducted through the “MIT administration, not the faculty,” as prescribed by the 2001 MIT Task Force on Minority Achievement.

Considering the demanding academics through which MIT puts many of its undergraduates, some MIT faculty and administrators are surprisingly dismissive of our baccalaureate students and degrees. I considered citing the low percentages – sometimes zero – of MIT senior leadership, academic council, academic deans, department heads, faculty, and supervisory administrators who hold an MIT SB degree. Thus, one may argue that many MIT faculty and administrators in some significant respects do not have a broad sense of, or respect for, the MIT undergraduate experience.

These are a few of the worthwhile educational issues challenging the vision, philosophy, and competence of President Sally A. Kornbluth. I am delighted to see that, for someone with little or no formal MIT experience of her own, she has recently appeared to expand her very tight circle of advisement. Even if she appoints 10 vice presidents for equity and inclusion, however, she cannot achieve a successful MIT presidency if she does not address the issues of the admissions and education of black undergraduates, which have been the focus of this article.

Hopefully, the court that has coalesced itself around her will help her to understand and to grapple with the courageous and fundamental educational tasks I have articulated. If her current advisers are unable to define these issues in explicit terms, she should find others who can. The challenges are great and the rewards are monumental, though a clear vision of the issues, the desires to understand them, and the pathways to address them do not appear to have pierced the current bubble around her.

I encourage President Kornbluth to better understand and substantively evaluate the consequences of MIT’s admissions and education of black undergraduates during the past half century. Is it logical or even honest to advertise the number of diversity-driven incoming black undergraduates, while virtually never offering information about their graduation rates, subsequent educational progress, and resultant careers, including nominal bases of comparisons? These shortcomings, having been exposed, can no longer be ignored by pretending that they do not exist. Regarding diversity, I believe President Kornbluth owes the MIT diaspora a statement of philosophy, goals, programs, and results – including periodic updates – buttressed by quantitative data.

In summary, I am disgusted by the expansion of this demeaning trend involving black undergraduates at MIT. By recruiting an annually increasing number of black students who will fail or limp toward graduation as future scientists and engineers with meager competence (likely risking physical harm to others) and low self-esteem (likely risking their own self-respect), MIT will destroy or immensely weaken their prospects for future leadership. We, the faculty and administration, can no longer embrace the luxury of ignorance regarding the future prospects and responsibilities of our students. When I allow myself to reflect deeply on what MIT is doing to a significant fraction of the black undergraduates – academically, culturally, and psychologically – I become physically nauseated.

Hence, my primary goals in writing this article are (1) to recommend a thorough study and analysis of MIT’s historical use of affirmative action and diversity policies in black undergraduate admissions; and (2) to argue that if the Institute chooses to continue to enlist black undergraduates in pursuit of its future diversity goals, MIT should establish a gigantic commitment to ensure a massively improved scholarly and empathetic environment that achieves the development of an academically elite and a psychologically healthy black undergraduate community.