MIT Moves to Protect Freedom of Speech on Campus, Arguing it’s Essential for “search for truth and justice”

By Kaley Chartier

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Ad Hoc Working Group on Freedom of Expression has released a new statement concerning the issue to the MIT community, recommending it be adopted by MIT faculty.

“With a tradition of celebrating provocative thinking, controversial views, and nonconformity, MIT unequivocally endorses the principles of freedom of expression and academic freedom,” the statement read.

The statement argues freedom of expression “promotes creativity” which is essential for the “search for truth and justice.”

[RELATED: Prof defends music theory against white supremacist claims, then gets demoted. Now, he’s suing] 

The group declared individuals should have the “freedom to criticize and peacefully protest speakers to whom one may object, but it does not extend to suppressing or restricting such speakers from expressing their views.”

President of MIT, Rafael Reif, announced the new statement in a Sept. 1 letter to MIT.

“​​Last fall, I asked the provost, chancellor and chair of the faculty to assemble a special working group to take up the charge of exploring…a range of profound questions around freedom of expression and academic freedom – and today I share important progress,” he wrote.

“We must ensure that different points of view – even views that some or all of us may reject or find offensive – are allowed to be heard and debated on our campus,” Reif stated. “I am convinced we must be prepared to endure such painful outcomes as the price of protecting free expression – the principle is that important.”

The president highlighted an example of censorship on campus: MIT’s annual Carlson lecture was canceled due to controversy over University of Chicago Professor Dorian Abbot’s previous statements on diversity, equity, and conclusion.

In an Op-Ed for Newsweek, Abbot stated, “‘diversity, equity and inclusion’ sound just, and are often supported by well-intentioned people, but their effects are the opposite of noble sentiments.”

“It treats persons as merely means to an end, giving primacy to a statistic over the individuality of a human being,” Abbot explained.

Abbot told Campus Reform, “I was shocked that such a thing could happen at MIT.”

MIT Ford Professor of Engineering, Arthur Baggeroer, told Campus Reform he was “very disappointed” the lecture was canceled.

“Let me suggest that I was very disappointed with MIT’s response to the recent incident where a University of Chicago professor was uninvited,” Baggeroer said.

[Related: Merit system is unjust because it rewards productive individuals, professors says]

Campus Reform contacted Esther & Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Chair, Cullen Buie, Assistant Professor Kaityn Becker, Darian Abbot, and President Reif for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

Source: Campus Reform

Kayley Chartier is a sophomore at Fort Hays State University in Western Kansas. She is majoring in criminal justice and social work. Kayley is the Vice President of Turning Point USA and active member of College Republicans and Criminal Justice Club.

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