MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XXX No. 3
January / February 2018
Support the Olympic Truce:
Diplomacy with North Korea Not War;
Haiti: Responding to Various Needs
#MeToo at MIT: Harassment
and Systemic Gender Subordination
Solidarity at its Best:
But Need to Stay the Course
Introducing MIT’s New Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Training and Consensual Relationships Policy
MIT Day of Action: April 17, 2018
Call For Participation
Trump’s Insults Pour Salt in Wounds
of Haitians Healing After Succession
of Disasters
Inclusive Community Faculty Dinners
Comment on “How Deeply Are
Our Students Learning?”
Update on the Task Force
on Open Access to MIT Research
Deep Learning or Deep Ratings?
No More MIT Voo Doo
Teaching this spring? You should know . . .
MIT Faculty By Gender (AY 2018)
Printable Version


Support the Olympic Truce:
Diplomacy with North Korea Not War;
Haiti: Responding to Various Needs


Support the Olympic Truce:
Diplomacy with North Korea Not War

The Winter Olympics and Paralympics are being held in Pyeongchang, South Korea February 2 through March 18. In November 2017, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for an Olympic Truce, or a cessation of hostilities during the Winter Games. The Olympic Truce was a feature of the original Greek Olympic Games, to allow athletes to travel from warring city-states. The current Olympic Truce proposal was supported by 157 UN Member States, including both Koreas and future hosts of the Olympic Games: Japan, China, France, and the United States. In the spirit of the truce, the North Korean and South Korean governments have agreed to field joint teams during the Olympic games. This decision offers a unique moment to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula.

During the 1950s’ war in Korea, the U.S-led military coalition dropped a total of 635,000 tons of bombs, including 32,557 tons of napalm, on Korea, more than during the whole Pacific campaign of World War II. Prof. Bruce Cumings in his 2011 treatise, The Korean War: A History, describes the devastation of the cities and towns, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of North Koreans. Since then, U.S./South Korea joint military forces have held “invasion” exercises off the coast of North Korea every year for decades. Is it so difficult to understand that the North Korean regime and perhaps North Korean people feel the need for a nuclear deterrent?

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has apparently persuaded President Donald Trump to postpone U.S./South Korea war drills that would have overlapped with the Olympics. Delaying these military exercises could pave the way for a longer-term “freeze for freeze” deal – a suspension of military exercises in exchange for a ban on North Korea’s nuclear and missile testing. Ultimately, this delay could mean an official end to the Korean War by replacing the 1953 armistice with a permanent peace treaty.

Another war with North Korea would be more disastrous than the last one, whether conventional or nuclear. The use of nuclear weapons could escalate to a conflagration which would devastate Asia and the Pacific. South Korea would bear the immediate brunt of any conflict with North Korea and would certainly suffer millions of casualties. The Olympic Truce represents a unique opportunity to defuse tensions and begin the work of reconciliation on the Korean peninsula. A national coalition has formed to support this effort, calling for endorsement of the Olympic truce and a variety of supporting local actions.

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Haiti: Responding to Various Needs

In this issue, we reprint Prof. Erica Caple James’s response to President Trump’s January 11 scurrilous reference to Haitian, Salvadoran, African, and other immigrants, “Trump’s Insults Pour Salt in Wounds of Haitians Healing After Succession of Disasters.” Haiti was the first nation in the world to throw off the curse of slavery and holds an important place in world history. Its own history has been difficult – in part because of its role as a beacon of freedom to enslaved populations. Prof. James cogently summarizes this history and the often-destructive U.S. role.

In addition, because of its location in the Caribbean, Haiti has borne the burden of natural disasters, hurricanes, and earthquakes, including most recently the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010, as well as Hurricane Matthew on October 4, 2016. MIT faculty and staff were active in the relief efforts for the earthquake victims (“Responding to the Earthquake: A Workshop, Lecture Series, and More,” MIT Faculty Newsletter, Vol. XXII No. 3). Prof. Amy Smith and the D-Lab have worked on clear water projects and alternate sources of charcoal production for cooking, to lessen deforestation. The cholera outbreaks call attention to the need for improved water quality and clear water resources. Prof. Michel DeGraff, Dr. Vijay Kumar, and Prof. Haynes Miller have led efforts to improve STEM education through the use of technology-enhanced active-learning resources and methods in Haitian Creole, also known as “Kreyòl” (“The MIT-Haiti Initiative: An International Engagement,” MIT Faculty Newsletter, Vol. XXIX No. 1). Prof. James is evaluating post-disaster food and water development programs in Haiti with support from J-WAFS (the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab).

Graduate students, professors, and scholars of Haitian descent are integral to MIT, as well as belonging to an important community in the City of Cambridge, whose public schools have long offered bilingual programs for Haitian students. Just this year, the Boston Public Schools system, with the help of Prof. DeGraff, launched the first ever two-way (English and Kreyòl) immersion program in Massachusetts – with a curriculum that will enrich the humanity of both Haitian and non-Haitian children in the Boston area.

President Trump’s comments are only one example of the many efforts to discredit constituencies and communities who are our fellow citizens, students, and colleagues. Last spring, an MIT faculty, staff, and student coalition organized a Day of Action/Day of Engagement to encourage responses that defended our beliefs in inclusiveness and democracy. This effort will be continued this April 17. The call for this follow-up Day of Action/Day of Engagement can be found in this issue. We encourage faculty to sign on to this effort, and to plan to participate at whatever level appropriate.

Editorial Subcommittee

Nazli Choucri
Manduhai Buyandelger
Jonathan King
Nasser Rabbat

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