MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XXXI No. 5
May / June 2019
The Danger to Civilian Science
from the Growing Pentagon Budget
Greetings to You the Graduates –
And to Your Families!
Time to Up Our Game
An Update on MIT's Climate Action Plan
Rick Danheiser New Faculty Chair
Random Faculty Dinner Notes
Academic Year 2018-2019
Hayden Library Renovation:
What You Should Know
Introducing the Faculty Committee
on Campus Planning
Should MIT Break All Ties With Saudi Arabia?
U. S. Discretionary Spending 2017
Printable Version


Should MIT Break All Ties With Saudi Arabia?


To The Faculty Newsletter:

While I agree with the deep concern of many of my MIT colleagues with regard to formal ties to Saudi “State-Controlled Entities,” the situation is more complicated. These entities are far from homogenous enterprises. They are collections of human beings, male and female, young and old, all very different one from the other in their attitudes and priorities.

These individuals, when engaging with MIT in projects – research and/or education – become exposed to MIT's inclusive culture and values. Some come to Cambridge as students, undergraduate or graduate, and become immersed in our culture and values. Positive change can and has occurred within these entities. In more than one instance, I have seen this happen myself with Saudi Aramco. I can give details if necessary.

While I can see the attraction of calling for a 100% abandonment of all formal ties to Saudi State-Controlled Entities, as usual in life, things are much more complicated. I urge my faculty colleagues to consider the consequences of zero interaction on the human beings of these entities – male and female, young and old – with the human beings of MIT. Is isolation the best alternative that we have?

Dick Larson
Professor, Post-Tenure
MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society

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