Patterico's Pontifications

5/7/2024

MIT Faces Down the Protesters

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:25 pm



[guest post by JVW]

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology had been doing okay for itself rebounding from the fairly weak testimony of its president, Sally Kornbluth, in that disastrous House hearing back in December which derailed the careers of Claudine Gay and Liz Magill of Harvard and Penn respectively. President Kornbluth had given, at least in my partisan eyes, a slightly better performance than her two colleagues, being far more inclined than they to acknowledge calls for Israel’s destruction are anti-semitic. Still, she failed to placate all of the Institute’s alumni, but given the fact that she had not yet been in her role for a full year, the MIT Corporation resisted calls to remove her.

To address some qualms that alumni had over the prospect of MIT becoming yet another way station for the anti-Israel radical left, the Institute took some concrete steps to show that they would not tolerate intimidation or discrimination. In response to pro-Hamas students blocking access to a main lobby of the major academic building on campus, MIT suspended the rancid Students for Justice in Palestine organization, decertifying it as an official campus organization and not allowing its members to hold events on campus. The administration also very clearly outlined what constituted legitimate protest protected by First Amendment rights, versus what constituted unlawful assemblies and harassment. They were not so forthcoming about potential consequences for violating these policies, beyond the typically banal invocation of “resolution pathways” and the other administrative gobbledygook so popular in academia.

And so when the various building takeovers, lawn encampments, disruptive marches, and the like started sprouting out around campus, MIT found itself once again dealing with how to adequately respond. Interestingly enough, during this period MIT made the surprise announcement that they would be dropping required “diversity statements” for potential faculty hires, a move which no doubt chapped the hide of the campus crybullies.

But that small measure was swamped in the campus news cycle when pro-Hamas students and local community agitators did their thing and over the weekend set-up an encampment in an area called Kresge Oval which is surrounded by Kresge Auditorium, the student center, the MIT Chapel, and some dormitories. On Monday, the administration said “no, no” and gave the students until 2:30 pm to evacuate the area or else face disciplinary action. By the time the deadline had arrived the majority of students had voluntarily left, though some hardcore students remained, risking suspension according to official policy. Once a nearby pro-terrorist street rally ended a few hours later, however, the students broke down barriers and reentered the encampment. The administration estimates that about 150 students are now camped out on Kresge Oval, and there doesn’t seem to be much impetus to remove them. Commencement is still three weeks away.

MIT now finds itself in a difficult situation partly of its own making. Previously, the administration had announced the penalties for students who failed to leave the encampment in a timely manner. They consisted of an immediate suspension from all MIT activities including classes (final exam week begins May 17) and commencement ceremonies for any students who were not previously involved in a disciplinary issue. These students would be allowed to remain in campus housing and to use the campus dining facilities. Students who were already involved in a campus disciplinary proceeding would also be banned from MIT activities and they would further be required to immediately vacate any campus housing and prohibited from eating in campus dining. They would be effectively banned from campus (with the exception of the health services center) until their case is adjudicated.

It seems to me that there is simply no way that MIT can go back on this threat, no matter whose ox is gored. Certainly not all of the 150 unhappy campers are students or even affiliated with the Institute, but the student presence will no doubt be significant enough that at least a few dozen students will not be able to take final exams or defend their theses, and some who had planned to graduate will thus find their status imperiled. It would be the easiest thing in the world for the MIT Administration to be exceedingly lenient and cut these students some slack, but they absolutely should not do so. It will also be tempting for sympathetic faculty to decide to waive the final exam or to perhaps move the thesis defense off campus, but the administration needs to clamp down on that nonsense too. This is the message that I, as an alumnus, will be relaying to the administration. The acronym FAFO is being used quite a bit these days, and I think it is imperative that it be firmly applied at my alma mater.

– JVW

51 Responses to “MIT Faces Down the Protesters”

  1. I’m sure that the administration in the sprit of goodwill assumed that once the students had departed the encampment and campus facilities had erected some fencing around the remaining children that the matter would be settled. Boy were they wrong. It’s all the more reason why no quarter should be given to the students, even if there are foreign students involved who will be subject to deportation for having been suspended from campus. Though I’m sure Joe Biden’s Department Homeland Security will cut them as much slack as his pro-Hamas flank demands of him.

    JVW (b02843)

  2. How about just slamming the door and making them stay there until the end of the semester? Although a cell and wifi jammer might do the trick if you want them gone.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  3. Something like this

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  4. Heck, there are folks at MIT would could build them from scraps.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  5. Screw MIT.

    I’m a proud graduate of the Springfield Heights Institute of Technology! 😉

    qdpsteve again (782c5b)

  6. Every single one of the terrorist sympathizers will get their diplomas and then be asked to donate in the future. None will learn a single thing from their actions.

    NJRob (eb56c3)

  7. There there’s this proud student of the Hamburg Institute of Technology. Luckily he’s unavailable for comment.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  8. Kevin M, Moe was a proud HIT-ler. 😛

    qdpsteve again (782c5b)

  9. I’m a proud graduate of the Springfield Heights Institute of Technology!

    Nice! I’ll buy a sweatshirt from that bookstore.

    JVW (b02843)

  10. I’ve always wanted to open a women’s college in lovely Faubush, Kentucky and name it Fabush University of Central Kentucky. The school mascot would be the Ewe.

    JVW (b02843)

  11. JVW, LOL! I can think of a few guys I know who’d love to attend that Kentucky university.

    Also be sure to launder that sweatshirt before wearing…

    qdpsteve again (782c5b)

  12. Oops, you said “women’s college.” My bad.
    REALLY wish this place had an edit button for posted comments. 🙂

    qdpsteve again (782c5b)

  13. Everything old is new again…

    How Trump Is Just Like Bill Clinton

    https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/03/21/bill-clinton-donald-trump-lowry-217695/

    qdpsteve again (782c5b)

  14. Oops, you said “women’s college.” My bad.

    What is a “woman” really?

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  15. What is a “woman” really?

    I can promise you that at my women’s college it is going to matter.

    JVW (b02843)

  16. In guerrilla theater warfare you look for weakness. The left has now taken over the palestinian cause and will bring their considerable skills to the party. Ohio gov. got tuff at kent state and mayor daily at chicago convention. 2024 convention back in chicago. Most in academia support the students not the cops. Your post only means the river flows around the rocks that gets in its way. The left is spoiling for a fight as the democrat establishment is caught in the middle as donor class supports Israel at least up to this point and younger democrats don’t.

    asset (3d53e6)

  17. asset, thank you for confirming you are 100% in favor of the anti-semitic Jew hatred, harassment and terrorism on campuses today, and can’t help but masturbate over your bloodlust.

    NOW can we please get rid of this troll?

    qdpsteve again (782c5b)

  18. NOW can we please get rid of this troll?

    It’s not really my way to put anyone in moderation or bring down the ban hammer on them, unless they do things like launch vile personal attacks or spam the site with pornography or something. I find asset’s faith in the ruthless and effectiveness of the young left — a group that demanded to get Door Dash, Adderall, and tampons delivered to their cute little outdoor tent parties — to be equal measures precious and stupid, but I think asset has an aging Baby Boomer’s pathetic nostalgia for 1960s radicalism which itself fizzled out and gave us twenty years of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. May history repeat itself.

    JVW (b02843)

  19. JVW, hard for me to disagree with your characterization. Anyway thanks for the explanation.

    qdpsteve again (782c5b)

  20. @17 I made an observation about the left. As I have stated many times here I support Israels destruction of hamas as best result for everyone. I try to educate the ignorant about what the left is doing. I don’t call posters here name wither they call me names or not. @ 18 it wont demographics.

    asset (3d53e6)

  21. Donald Trump owes a debt of gratitude to these children. Not only have they gotten his sordid little trial off page one now and then, but they make his opponents talk crazy talk.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  22. The whole anti-Israel movement can be summed up as follows: “You know, this is what Jews do!”

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  23. asset, until you specifically condemn what these LEFTIST agitators are doing to Jewish students, I will continue to assume you support them.

    qdpsteve again (782c5b)

  24. @23 It is mostly muslim students who have been doing this long before oct. 7 as I have stated before I have serious questions about Islam and the evil things done in its name. Which is why I support the destruction of hamas. As for leftists doing things I am sure there is some and they shouldn’t do it. You want me to stop there ;but I wont, their are pro Israel counter protesters at UCLA and U of mississippi and more today on the news also using intimidation and even violence which I do condemn also. I believe from what I see today on the news is escalating on both sides and their may be violence.

    asset (3d53e6)

  25. UPDATE: This morning the MIT Chancellor assures annoyed alums that, “There will be disciplinary action for any student known to be participating in this encampment.” Last night she had reminded students of what that disciplinary action will look like [bolded emphasis appears in original]:

    1. If you have not been sanctioned by the COD [Committee on Discipline] and do not have any pending COD cases related to events since October 7, but choose to stay in the encampment past the [May 6] deadline, you will be placed on an immediate interim academic suspension lasting at least through Institute commencement activities, and you will be referred to the COD. This means you will be prohibited from participating in any academic activities – including classes, exams, or research – for the remainder of the semester. You will also be prohibited from participating in commencement activities or any co-curricular activities. During the period of your interim academic suspension, you will be permitted to reside in your assigned residence hall through the end of the semester, use your meal plan at MIT dining halls, and utilize services at MIT Health. Continued additional protests or disruptions that are not authorized will be considered an aggravating factor in the COD review of your case.

    2. If you either have been sanctioned by the COD or have a pending COD case related to events since October 7, but choose to stay in the encampment past the deadline, you will be placed on an immediate interim full suspension lasting at least through Institute commencement activities, and you will be referred to the COD. This means you will be prohibited from participating in any academic activities – including classes, exams, or research – for the remainder of the semester. You will also be prohibited from participating in commencement activities or any cocurricular activities. You will also not be permitted to reside in your assigned residence hall or use MIT dining halls. You must leave campus immediately, but you will continue to have access to services at MIT Health. Continued additional protests or disruptions that are not authorized will be considered an aggravating factor in the COD review of your case.”

    The administration has called their shot, and it would look really bad if they didn’t follow through with it.

    JVW (b02843)

  26. Oh, JVW, I wish we were friends IRL so I could tell you some of the craziness adjacent to me (Patterico has my email). But I was struck by something important. I was in college at the tail end of the early 70s protests. And many of those protesters wore their arrests and punishments as a badge of honor (well, they were willing to stand up for their beliefs, which I did not and do not share).

    I thought to myself, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote “Letters from a Birmingham Jail,” not “Letters From My Dorm Room Holding a Latte and a Bong.”

    Other people more famous than myself have written versions of this.

    The point is simple: if you believe in a cause enough to break laws or rules, you need to be willing to take responsibility for doing so.

    Otherwise, it is just LARPing and cosplay.

    I just shake my head at the “Amnesty” calls. Me, I wish that the protesters at UCLA would be forced to clean up their mess.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  27. if you believe in a cause enough to break laws or rules, you need to be willing to take responsibility for doing so.

    This goes back at least to Thoreau, whose grandfather led what is possibly the first student protest (in 1766 at Harvard over rancid butter in the dining hall).

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  28. Kevin M, it just seems like cheap self congratulatory posturing without taking responsibility. I was going to use a more pungent phrase but stopped myself.

    #LuxuryBeliefs #DormRoomRevolutionaries

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  29. I often wish we still used the stocks or other forms of public humiliation as punishment. People know the jails are full.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  30. Honestly, trash collection on campus seems great. Did you see the mess at UCLA afterwards?

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  31. https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article288140730.html

    Same issue at Columbia and I’m sure elsewhere. The leftist agitators are running the classrooms and indoctrinating this kind of poison and hatred in their classrooms. It is well past time to deal with them.

    NJRob (e4afb0)

  32. You know, NJRob, one of the reasons I am retiring is because I was open about something in my classes.

    My role is never, ever to push a political agenda in my classroom. I do my very best to support all points of view within reason. I genuinely want students to feel supported and challenged.

    This made me a target for a fair amount of abuse. I was told that science has always been political. I agreed, and added that we got into a great deal of trouble every time scientists got political.

    Look, I will never tell another professor what to teach and how to teach it. But I won’t let anyone else tell what to teach and how to teach it, either.

    I really don’t belong to academia anymore.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  33. This goes back at least to Thoreau, whose grandfather led what is possibly the first student protest (in 1766 at Harvard over rancid butter in the dining hall).

    I’m not home to look it up, but I have a book about the history of drinking (yeah, of course I do) which pegs one of the earliest Harvard student protests as being when the daily allotment of ale served to each student at mealtime had been suddenly cut. It apparently led to students smashing windows of local merchants and the local militia having to be called in to quell the violence. I’ll have to see if that allegedly predated the 1766 Bad Butter kerfuffle.

    JVW (e03927)

  34. Simon Jester, I cannot agree more heartily with you about students who want the notoriety for civil disobedience but somehow demand to escape the consequences. I will actually have a measure of respect, at least in one regard, for any student who is expelled from Columbia, MIT, George Washington, wherever, and responds by saying, “Fine, I don’t want to study in that Zionist hellhole anyway.” It would be even better if he channeled his inner Davy Crockett by telling the dean, “You sir can go to hell, and I will go to Gaza,” and then lit out for the Middle East. I still reserve the right to ridicule their rancid ideology, but at least I can respect that they have the courage of their convictions.

    JVW (e03927)

  35. Sorry Simon. I cannot imagine how difficult it’s been to deal with such abject hatred and discrimination for your entire career. I would not be able to deal with that.

    NJRob (e4afb0)

  36. I cannot imagine how difficult it’s been to deal with such abject hatred and discrimination for your entire career. I would not be able to deal with that.

    I suppose that’s the point. The idea is to drive instructors like Simon out of the academy so that they can be replaced by yet another adherent to the dominant monoculture. At any other place of business, especially one so dependent upon government funding, this would not be tolerated. But we’ve allowed academics to hire their own through an opaque system which is unaccountable to anybody but themselves. Unless that comes to a quick end, I don’t see higher education recapturing the esteem of the public that it held up until the turmoil of the 1960s.

    It’s difficult always having to rely upon Ron DeSantis or Greg Abbott to take the lead on these issues, but some governor — even a Democrat one who realizes that his or her state university system has gone to rot — ought to stand up and declare that faculty will no longer have sole possession of the hiring process for their own. And in those academic disciplines which are dominated by one particular hardcore ideology, they should be told that they have forfeited the responsibility of hiring faculty and staff and that an independent board appointed by the state will now oversee that function.

    JVW (e03927)

  37. Kevin M (a9545f) — 5/7/2024 @ 4:53 pm

    Although a cell and wifi jammer might do the trick if you want them gone.

    I think there is some sort of prohibition on using them.

    Or else they would work fine for some K-12 schools and jails.

    https://www.fcc.gov/general/jammer-enforcement

    Federal law prohibits the operation, marketing, or sale of any type of jamming equipment that interferes with authorized radio communications, including cellular and Personal Communication Services (PCS), police radar, and Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

    …The use of a phone jammer, GPS blocker, or other signal jamming device designed to intentionally block, jam, or interfere with authorized radio communications is a violation of federal law. There are no exemptions for use within a business, classroom, residence, or vehicle. Local law enforcement agencies do not have independent authority to use jamming equipment; in certain limited exceptions use by Federal law enforcement agencies is authorized in accordance with applicable statutes.

    It is also unlawful to advertise, sell, distribute, import, or otherwise market jamming devices to consumers in the United States.

    This is so baked in that nobody even thinks of amending the law.

    Of course if such things existed within the United States, they might escape and be used criminally. But they could be taxed – that would limit their use -you could even charge a $1.000 tax per jammer and they be available only if they had a limited range.

    And maybe legal to use only if free or pay landline phones were available inside.

    Sammy Finkelman (61907d)

  38. https://www.wsj.com/articles/1968s-outside-agitators-and-uchicagos-appeasers-c7a87aa4

    Your May 2 editorial “The ‘Outside Agitators’ on Campus” brings me back to 1968 when as a college student I went with my buddy to Madison Square Garden to protest George Wallace. Up at the front of the demonstration we soon found ourselves being “educated” by out-of-towners who said they had been at the convention in Chicago.

    These experienced agitators handed out toy jacks and firecrackers, telling us to toss them under police horses. They gave us nails to stab the animals’ flanks so they’d throw their riders. When the police did arrive, our instructors yelled about having had sex with their daughters and wives and did indeed attack the mounted officers, trying to swarm and isolate them. My buddy and I quickly realized that these guys were professionals who weren’t fooling around. We slipped away. That was our last demonstration.

    In the years since, 22 of which I spent in the New York City Fire Department, I witnessed a number of other riots but they were spontaneous affairs. Some were more like street parties that went out of control. It wasn’t until the Occupy movement, Antifa and the Black Lives Matter riots that I recognized my old teachers were back stronger and more organized than ever.

    John McKernan

    Montauk, N.Y.

    When the editorial board lauds the University of Chicago, where I’m a law student, for establishing “lines that are clear from the beginning and then enforcing them,” I can’t agree.

    The letter by university President Paul Alivisatos starts out strong, explaining the difference between free speech and disruptive behavior, while promising no tolerance for the latter. But this firm stance doesn’t survive the length of Mr. Alivisatos’s brief missive. A few lines down, he admits that “we may allow an encampment to remain for a short time despite the obvious violations of policy.”

    What’s “a short time”? The protest encampment was allowed to enter its second week. On Friday the university even had to send an emergency alert to avoid the Main Quad because of “reports of physical altercations.” Pro-Israel displays protected under university free-speech rules have been destroyed. Protesters were even defecating in a tent on the quad.

    The administration has been meeting with the radicals, and protesters leaked emails that show the school capitulating to some of their demands—though the university said there were “material inaccuracies” in information being shared on social media. Mr. Alivisatos on Friday feebly asked the encampment to disband. The response? Someone projected “F— Paul” onto iconic Levi Hall. Only on Tuesday did the university finally enforce its rules and clear the encampment.

    There are schools that have done “the right thing” from the outset, as the editorial notes. Mine isn’t one of them.

    Joshua Blustein

    Chicago

    The student protesters at University of California, Los Angeles made one strategic error. The encampment might still be in place if only they had claimed to be homeless.

    Martin Johnston

    Sammy Finkelman (61907d)

  39. Pro-Israel displays protected under university free-speech rules have been destroyed.

    That was free speech.

    Making demandsisn’t.

    Sammy Finkelman (61907d)

  40. @29 agree I know a lot of republicans who need to be put in stocks. Maybe when AOC becomes president?

    asset (32c802)

  41. @31 when are you going to start? Columbia awaits you.

    asset (32c802)

  42. Of course if such things existed within the United States,

    I guess you missed the link in #3 to the devices I found after 13 seconds of causal googling.

    https://www.thesignaljammer.com/products/tsj-ph5-handheld-cell-phone-jammer/

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  43. UNC faculty will with hold grades if administration doesn’t grant amnesty to protesters. (ap) Other sides can play hard ball too. Tit for tat begins it will get worse.

    asset (32c802)

  44. Thank you, JVW, Kevin M, and NJRob, for your kind words.

    As for trolls, well, they are part of the terrain around here. I’ll stick with the non-trolls like yourselves.

    The sad part about all of this is not really the students. We have spent a couple of decades indoctrinating them. They are young and easily swayed by bumper sticker thinking.

    The organizers? They are the ones using those young people to advance their goals. The students chanting while holding their Starbucks mocha frappacinno (and I am using that imagery based on things I have personally seen)are the ones who will get arrested and have their futures damaged.

    Older folks have always used younger folks.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  45. HEY! I like a good mocha frap.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  46. For people who think there are never any consequences, remember PATCO.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  47. UNC faculty will with hold grades if administration doesn’t grant amnesty to protesters. (ap) Other sides can play hard ball too.

    Well now, that’s exactly what I meant in my comment from 2:02 pm about how it’s time that elected officials ride herd on these state employees. If Governor Roy Cooper, even as a Democrat, wants to put an end to this nonsense, he should immediately announce that any faculty member withholding grades will have his or her paycheck withheld, and if the grades have not been produced within one week’s time that faculty member will be dismissed for insubordination. And then stick to it. If your friends want to play hardball, asset, then “batter up.”

    JVW (b02843)

  48. Jonah mentions MIT in his latest, saying that “nature is healing” because folks are rejecting DEI and other left-wing projects, but I’m not so optimistic.

    Whether it’s PC, or SJWs, or DEI, or woke, or some other name, it’s an attempt by the Left to control words, thoughts and behaviors over the rest of us, IMO. The previous versions sorta died out because of the excesses, and this woke business is no exception.

    There will be another name for it in the future, and we’ll have to go back and criticize their nonsense all over again.

    Paul Montagu (d52d7d)

  49. Academia needs more Simon Jesters, and this is the worst thing about recent events, the way they’re being run out by intolerant anti-liberal Left.

    Paul Montagu (d52d7d)

  50. @47 OK. Play hard ball! While university jobs are difficult to find only half the lower grade jobs are filled. So they can continue on and is only a problem in some red states. Many are publish or parish jobs anyway. Even desatan has stopped threatening school teachers in floriduh as he would be blamed for teacher walk out and their are many more jobs then teachers to fill them. He rightly fears other teacher shortage states putting up bill boards telling teachers they don’t have to work in a fascist police state!

    asset (982008)

  51. UNC faculty will with hold grades if administration doesn’t grant amnesty to protesters. (ap) Other sides can play hard ball too.

    And AOC will organize a Rita Moreno Brigade to go to Gaza and fight on the side of the Palestinians.

    No shortage of wet in a troll’s dreams.

    nk (63386f)

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