MIT administration responds to Lobby 7 protest
Kornbluth: “Let us strive to be a community that can offer the world the wisdom of our example.”
On Nov. 14, President Sally Kornbluth provided an update in the form of an FAQ to the MIT community summarizing the events of Nov. 9. via email. Kornbluth also released a video regarding the tensions on campus. This followed up on a prior email to the MIT community regarding a protest and counterprotest that occurred in Lobby 7 and the Infinite Corridor Nov. 9.
On Nov. 9., the Coalition Against Apartheid (CAA) began protesting at 8:00 A.M. At 10:00 A.M., both protest and counterprotest had developed. In her Nov. 9. email, Kornbluth said that the protest “became disruptive, loud and sustained through the morning hours.” MIT police were present and according to Kornbluth, did “an outstanding job of de-escalating the situation.”
At 4:55 P.M. Nov. 9, MIT Advisory notified the community via email to avoid Lobby 7 “due to an ongoing demonstration” and to “seek alternative routes.”
By 5:00 P.M, MIT Police were preventing entry to Lobby 7 via the front entrance at 77 Massachusetts Ave, where a crowd of protestors were assembled on the steps. Video from the MIT CAA Instagram account shows MIT police positioned at entry and exit points of the first and second floors of the Lobby 7 area.
Later that evening, Kornbluth said that although many students left before the time set by the administration, a few individuals did not.
In a letter circulated to the protestors in Lobby 7 and the Infinite Corridor, protestors were warned that “a line had been crossed.” Additionally, protestors were warned that “by choosing to violate our policies and guidelines, you have chosen to accept the consequences.” The letter was signed by President Kornbluth, Provost Cynthia Barnhart PhD ’88, and Chancellor Melissa Nobles.
In the email sent Nov. 14, Kornbluth clarified some of the statements made in the letter, acknowledging that “the language caused confusion and concern.” She wrote that students who remained after the deadline “have been restricted from participating in non-academic campus activities while the Committee on Discipline (COD) begins the formal disciplinary process.” She stated that complaints lodged against individual students “on both sides of the conflict” have been referred to the COD.
Kornbluth wrote that the Institute is “taking special steps” to manage the spike in reported violations of Institute policy. She added that the administration is working to “through a high volume of complaints expeditiously but with the same care and attention.”
President Kornbluth wrote that “MIT has enhanced campus security measures and patrols.” She added that the administration is “developing guidelines for addressing classroom disruptions” that will be communicated to department heads in the near future.
In her video address, Kornbluth stated the events of Nov. 9. were a “low point for our community - because we lost the capacity for listening and learning.” She posed: “is that really what we want MIT to be?” Kornbluth added that she “trust[s] and expect[s] that [the community] can do better.”
Kornbluth said that the people of MIT have “tremendous intellectual and creative gifts” and encouraged the community to “offer the world the wisdom of our example.”