News reporter's notebook

Seeking balance in The Tech

The silent fears of those who did not march

In this issue of The Tech, you’ll find coverage of marches that took place over the weekend, protesting the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump. The perspectives shared through these articles are largely Democratic, largely liberal. We, The Tech, have consistently attempted to provide balanced coverage of political events at MIT, reaching out to conservative students and groups on campus. However, we have not been able to get a Republican to go on the record due to fears of personal, academic, and professional repercussions.

Many recount losing friends, being insulted, or being yelled at after having revealed their political beliefs. They’ve said that MIT professors have publicly criticized their candidate, their party, or their beliefs. Many recall hateful post-election rhetoric, such as assassination wishes on the “Share your hopes” posters put up in Lobby 7.

As a news organization, The Tech needs the reader’s trust, and like a scientific publication, we cite our sources. Anonymity makes our reporting harder to trust and impossible to verify. Therefore, we rarely grant it, even though it is often requested.

One student, a Libertarian, agreed to speak on the record about the protests this weekend. “I’m scared of being falsely identified as a Republican,” that student, Daniel Gonzalez G, wrote. “I fear being ostracized and shamed publicly by literally every single one of my friends and many of the professors I work with. So do most people on [the MIT GOP] mailing list.”

This also corresponds to my own experience. I often jest that it was easier at MIT to come out as lesbian than as a Republican. It’s not a joke. Whereas my sexual orientation was barely remarked on, explaining my beliefs is rarely well-received and often requires fending off unwarranted criticism.

Beyond these journalistic concerns, the ubiquity of these fears raises an uncomfortable question: how did we, the MIT community, allow ourselves to appear so intolerant of conservative viewpoints?