Comment on Professor Sanyal's response to my article "Finding Polaris and Changing Course"
Professor Sanyal mischaracterizes Professor Winston’s motives and mine, and wrings his hands about imagined insults, humiliation, indecency, lack of civility, pain, cruelty, and whatnot.
A lot of what he writes is either off point or marginally relevant. His discourse on the value of Professor Paul Gray’s knowledge, experience, and contributions – how much Professor Gray has to share with us, for example – belabors the obvious. I am in full agreement with his assessment and could add more. But if knowledge, experience, and contributions are ample qualifiers for speaking privileges at MIT faculty meetings, then perhaps there are more affiliates, including other professors emeriti, who ought to join Professor Gray on the roster of those allowed, maybe even encouraged, to speak. The more general question is, where do we draw the line?
In December 1985, Professor Gray (as President Gray) told Professor Mel King, an adjunct professor, that he did not have speaking privileges (correctly, by the rules) and that, therefore, he would not be recognized to speak on the South African divestment question then on the floor. As a result, we were denied access to the views of a person highly qualified to speak on the subject by virtue of his knowledge, experience, and contributions on racial issues, nationally and internationally. Perhaps Professor Sanyal, had he been Chair of the Faculty at the time, would have jumped to Professor King’s aid as faithfully as he has jumped to Professor Gray’s in recent days. We shall never know.
Anyway, let me assure Professor Sanyal once again: no one is out to get him, members of the administration, Professor Gray, or anyone else. Some of us, however, have raised deep concerns about consistency and fairness how we run our faculty business, how we read and apply the rules, how we cherish and protect our civil liberties, how we treat the most and the least among us, how we present ourselves to the world. We still await a reasoned response.
Click here to view "Finding Polaris and Changing Course: A Closer Look at the December Faculty Meeting."