A Motion to Establish an Ad Hoc Faculty Committee
to Protect Academic Integrity
The following Motion was introduced at the September 18 Institute Faculty Meeting and will be discussed and voted upon at the Institute Faculty Meeting in October.
Whereas, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is committed to developing and maintaining an ethical environment in which faculty, students, and staff are able to truly advance its mission of working ‘for the betterment of humankind’; and
Whereas, The recent revelations concerning funds received by the Media Lab from Mr. Jeffrey Epstein, from the Saudi Arabian government and its agencies, along with other past and ongoing donors, require clarifying MIT’s values, and establishing a meaningful due diligence process for ensuring transparency and accountability in all fundraising activities; and
Whereas, MIT strives to be an institution guided by scientific temper and objectivity, with a commitment to facts and the rule of law, and therefore exhibits the courage to correct its mistakes, as when MIT acknowledged the need to improve the treatment of women faculty in the 1990s; and
Whereas, The values that guide MIT’s faculty, students, and staff should never be traded or sacrificed for short-term monetary gains or vague promises of future benefits; and
Whereas, The MIT community, especially the Faculty, needs to have greater voice in reviewing fundraising and investment decisions at MIT with a view to ensuring that they are fully aligned with MIT’s goals and values; and
Whereas, There will be increasing damage to MIT’s standing as a leading educational and research institution if current trends involving fundraising continue without significant changes;
Therefore be it Resolved:
That the MIT Faculty establish an Ad Hoc Committee of the Faculty on Protecting Academic Integrity, composed of Faculty volunteers independent of the Administration, to draft a statement of MIT values and standards, reflecting the responsibilities incumbent upon MIT as a global university, and the procedures to be followed by the Institute in receiving outside funding.
The mission of the Committee shall include the establishment of a robust due diligence process for review of all fundraising at MIT including a review of ongoing relationships in the light of MIT values, and establishment of standards for Institute agreements with outside agencies, governments, and individuals, drawing on examples of best practices around the world.
And be it further Resolved, That the standards, policies, and procedures include:
(a) Compliance at all times with applicable local, state, and federal civil and criminal laws and to ensure adherence to applicable rules of international law in all their external and financial engagements.
(b) Revised conflict of interest rules to ensure that Faculty members or researchers at MIT do not leverage fundraising for MIT-based research when it is for their personal gain unrelated to benefit for the MIT community or the public.
(c) Protections and safeguards for whistleblowers that reveal wrongdoings or violations of policies.
(d) Public notification of any proposed gift or engagement with a donor above $100,000, with comments invited from the MIT community within a reasonable period.
And be it further Resolved, That the MIT Faculty requests the Chair of the Faculty ensure implementation of this resolution, in order to achieve the above goals; and further urges the Chair to ensure that the Ad Hoc Committee is provided adequate funds for staff support, and that it reports regularly to the MIT Faculty, and the Faculty Policy Committee, on the measures to be adopted as urged in this motion.
And be it further Resolved, That this Motion will be discussed and voted on at the October 2019 regular meeting of the MIT Faculty.
Respectfully submitted: Robert Berwick, Ian Condry, Christopher Cummins, Sally Haslanger, Jean Jackson, Jonathan King, Roger Levy, Ceasar McDowell, Ruth Perry, Nasser Rabbat, Balakrishnan Rajagopal.