Safeguard free expression at MIT!

44% of MIT students surveyed by FIRE say it is sometimes or always acceptable to shout down a speaker to prevent them from speaking on campus.

Hold MIT to ACTA’s Gold Standard

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is struggling to protect free expression and intellectual diversity on campus. In the fall of last year, MIT leadership capitulated to social media demands to disinvite Professor Dorian Abbot from delivering the annual John Carlson Lecture. Professor Abbot was scheduled to speak about “Climate and the Potential for Life on Other Planets,” but his lecture was canceled because of his unrelated views on diversity, equity, and inclusion requirements for faculty hiring and student admissions.

MIT does not meet the ACTA Gold Standard for Freedom of Expression™, but it could with your encouragement. Together, we can help our country’s best schools to nourish a culture of free expression on campus. By taking steps such as adding a program on free speech to student orientation, implementing policies and procedures to support viewpoint diversity, and adopting a statement on free expression similar to the Chicago Principles, MIT would improve education for its students and ensure its continuing reputation as a leader in scientific discovery and technological innovation.

What is the Gold Standard?

  • Adopt the Chicago Principles on Freedom of Expression or a similarly strong statement.
  • Establish clear expectations regarding free expression in student, faculty, and staff handbooks and codes of conduct.
  • Include a free expression unit in new-student orientations.
  • Protect the diversity of political viewpoints by adopting an institutional neutrality policy such as the Kalven Committee Report.

  • Sponsor campus debates that model civil discourse.
  • Encourage establishment of student groups promoting free expression.
  • Protect the rights of invited speakers and listeners to engage with controversial ideas.
  • Establish and enforce consequences that deter disruption of sponsored speakers, events, and classes.
  • Encourage presidents, provosts, and deans to model respect for a broad range of viewpoints.
  • Guarantee that viewpoint diversity is reflected in student life policies and practices.
  • Support academic centers dedicated to free inquiry and intellectual diversity.
  • Make intellectual diversity a stated goal in faculty hiring, evaluation, and promotion.
  • Eliminate speech and IT policies that have a chilling effect on free expression.
  • Ensure that Title IX and other disciplinary procedures do not infringe on free expression.
  • Disband bias response teams.
  • Review student government policies to ensure viewpoint neutrality in student group recognition and funding.
  • Incorporate explicit policies of free expression in governance bylaws and other key institutional documents.
  • Include a commitment to free expression as a criterion for presidential searches and evaluations.
  • Require free expression and viewpoint diversity training for administrative staff.
  • Conduct regular evaluations of the state of free expression and intellectual diversity on campus.

“Freedom of expression makes it possible for the members of such a diverse community to exercise individual and collective deliberative and communicative capacities. Free expression facilitates individual autonomy and self-fulfillment, provides for participation in collective decision-making, and enhances the search for truth and justice.

—Report of the MIT Ad Hoc Working Group on Free Expression

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Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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