Apr. 29 Open Letter on the absence of effective MIT leadership

April 29, 2024

Sent to the MIT Corporation and copied to President Kornbluth

Statement from MIT JAA on the unsanctioned encampment at MIT

Dear Board Members of the MIT Corporation:

While many renowned American universities – including those a stone’s-throw from MIT – have demonstrated to America and to the world what a university under the control of its president and its university administration looks like, MIT’s president has opted to cede control of her campus to an unsanctioned encampment and to interlopers.

Rather than remove the unsanctioned encampment and those within it who wish to promote immoral equivalency of the perpetrators of the debased crimes of October 7 with the victims of the mass homicides, the violent and depraved sexual crimes, and the human mutilations, and who further, wish to advance Hamas-faked civilian casualty figures long-ago debunked by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, President Kornbluth and her administration have provided the unsanctioned encampment with support to continue unfettered and have provided the encampment with campus police protection.

Rather than lead with authority that demonstrates respect for the rights of all members of the MIT community in her charge, President Kornbluth has behaved in a feckless and irresponsible manner, choosing to stand with those in her administration who support and promote anti-Semitism. She has taken her place alongside the obviously anti-Semitic encampment that is intentionally staged opposite to MIT Hillel, the official site for Jewish life on campus. By acting thus, President Kornbluth has shown her hand: that she stands in support and in collaboration with those whose intention and purpose is to – in placing their unsanctioned encampment fronting the site of MIT Hillel – single out members of MIT’s Jewish community for targeting, for threats, and for intimidation.

In President Kornbluth’s own words: “From the start, this encampment has been a clear violation of [MIT’s] procedures for registering and reserving space for campus demonstrators”. Based upon President Kornbluth’s statement issued in early February that future handling of student breaches of MIT policy would, by her own measures – not be tolerated, this encampment – by those same measures – should have been dismantled the moment it was erected.

It has become clear that President Kornbluth is unwilling and unable to lead in time of crisis.

Therefore, on behalf of all members of the MIT community who are suffering in President Kornbluth’s own words from “[the] diverting of hundreds of staff hours, around the clock, away from other essential duties”, and by “commandeering [of] space reserved by other members of [the MIT] community”, we call upon members of the MIT Corporation to intercede to initiate an action plan that will result in immediate removal of the unsanctioned encampment and its occupants. We further call upon the Corporation to ensure that appropriate disciplinary action is immediately taken against all participants of this encampment. In President Kornbluth’s own words, “we have a responsibility to the entire MIT community”.

While we, representing one segment of the MIT Jewish community, find it reprehensible and inexcusable that President Kornbluth has omitted from any of her comments an intention to protect the segment of the MIT community in her charge that is directly targeted by the public displays of hate speech and threats of annihilation, we have long-understood the position she holds regarding anti-Semitism.

It is time now for the MIT Corporation, faced with a void in leadership created by MIT’s current President and MIT’s current administration, to immediately take the necessary steps needed to shut down the unsanctioned campus encampment and to move toward installing leadership whose policies will reflect and respect the safety of all members of the MIT community equally.


The Executive Committee of the MIT Jewish Alumni Alliance (MIT JAA)