MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XXVI No. 1
September / October 2013
Not Blameless, But Not to Blame
Report to the President, MIT and the Prosecution of Aaron Swartz
Regretted Omission
Newsletter Editorial Board Elections
Initial Thoughts
The MIT Physics Department's
Experience with edX
My Experience Teaching 3.091x
Pauline Maier
Students and Institute Governance
Creating a Culture of Caring: MIT's First Institute Community and Equity Officer
Resolution for Presentation to the MIT Faculty: "Establish a Campus Planning Committee"
The HASS Exploration (HEX) Program
Request for Preliminary Proposals
for Innovative Projects
Nominate a Colleague for the MacVicar Faculty Fellows Program
Teaching this fall? You should know . . .
Disturbed by Abelson Report
Praising America's Public Libraries
Class of 2017 Enrolled Students: Admissions Statistics
U.S. News & World Report: Ranking the Top 10 Engineering Graduate Schools
U.S. News & World Report: Ranking the Top 10 Business Graduate Schools
Printable Version


Disturbed By Abelson Report


To The Faculty Newsletter:

We were much disturbed to read, on page 69 of the Abelson Report [Report to the President, MIT and the Prosecution of Aaron Swartz], about a meeting between Robert Swartz and the Chancellor and General Counsel:

“Second, Robert Swartz connected the matter of his son to that of Star Simpson, arguing that the Star Simpson matter was a precedent that would allow MIT to make a statement. The Chancellor and the General Counsel took a different view, explaining that after MIT had made those statements its administration had been (justly) reprimanded.”

We have to wonder how the Chancellor and General Counsel construed the Simpson case as a precedent arguing against coming to the aid of someone in need of help. Surely any thoughtful person who attended the debate preceding the vote on the Manning-Winston resolution understood that our proposed resolution – some still call it a vote of no confidence – was in opposition to characterizing an innocent student as “reckless.” Both the Chancellor and General Counsel were there, both know that the vote failed and that the faculty narrowly sustained a policy that permitted, indeed encouraged, the administration to act thoughtfully – either by public comment or by behind-the-scenes negotiation – on consequential matters involving MIT. The Simpson case raised concern that the administration did not act thoughtfully, while the Swartz case is about a failure to act.

Kenneth R. Manning
Thomas Meloy Professor of Rhetoric and History of Science

Patrick H. Winston
Ford Professor of Computer Science

Back to top
Send your comments