From The Faculty Chair
The Haiti Challenge: Are We Doing Enough?
Every once in a while I’m reminded of the profound wisdom of our students. The recent Martin Luther King Breakfast was such an opportunity, not just for me, but for all who participated in the breakfast.
The theme this year was: “Deploying our Gifts for the Betterment of Humankind: What would Dr. King say about us?” Dylon Rockwell, the undergraduate student chosen to speak, reminded us of what sets MIT apart. In quoting Dr. King, Dylon closed his speech with a set of profound questions:
“Dr. King said ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’
On January 12, 2010 a devastating earthquake hit the small country of Haiti, and my friends and I felt compelled to act to help the victims of this tragedy. We raised money at booths in the Student Center, but we wanted to do more. Last week, we hosted a relief benefit showcase to help those personally affected by the earthquake. The show was a success and we raised thousands in donations that went to Partners in Health.
But this morning I’m still wondering was that enough? What would Dr. King say about me? What would Dr. King say about MIT? Has MIT deployed its gifts for the betterment of humankind? . . . .
. . . . I sometimes wonder what makes MIT so special. What sets us apart?
I now know it is our ability to take risks. Risk taking is evident in our motto “Mens et Manus” which means Mind and Hand. To me this means that whatever we put our mind to – we can put our hands to and make it happen.
This morning I would like to end by asking of myself, of you all here and of MIT in general, How can you serve? What can you give?”
We need to answer Dylon’s challenging questions in a fashion true to MIT’s motto, by putting our minds and hands to work in helping our neighbors in Haiti rebuild their lives and their country.
So I want to use this column to show we can and are making a difference in Haiti. I’ve asked three colleagues to tell how they are making things happen by mobilizing the talent and energy of others in the MIT community. After hearing their stories, let’s all ask again Dylon’s question of ourselves and of MIT: “Is this enough? What would Dr. King say about us? What would Dr. King say about MIT? Is MIT deploying its gifts for the betterment of humankind?”