Dear SA+P community:
Yesterday, President Reif sent a message to the MIT community with an update regarding the Jan. 27 Executive Order on immigration. I also want to reiterate President Reif's request: if you are directly affected by the executive order, or know of someone who is, contact the International Students Office immediately for assistance. Staff from this office are leading MIT’s efforts to help any members of our community currently barred by the order to return to our campus. Those individuals are in good hands. I extend my gratitude to everyone who has offered expressions of concern and support.
Many members of our SA+P community feel this order violates some of our most deeply held values. What should we do, many of us are asking?
Some of us have participated in protests and demonstrations; some are helping the refugees and immigrants, using their expertise to expose the injustices they see in this act and to undo them. Our faculty and students are also organizing forums for discussion. The Department Heads and I will do our best to help facilitate these discussions.
Italian philosopher, Giorgio Agamben has noted that orders like the travel ban tend to create a "state of exception,” placing power and action in the hands of a few outside common norms and laws and often in opposition to the values that uphold these norms and laws. The worst response, he argues, would be to retreat into inaction. Instead, we should persist in acting and in maintaining the state of normalcy through our actions. This includes persisting in our free and rigorous pursuit of knowledge, and following the MIT way, in channeling this knowledge to the solution of human problems. Action, in all its forms, will lead to hope.
I hope to see you all back in school next week and in the full swing of action.
Message originally sent on January 31, 2017 from Dean Hashim Sarkis to the SA+P Community.