Because of the amazing efforts by many MIT Chinese American faculty members and some prominent alumni, including some contacted by UCA, MIT president met with the Chinese American faculty members on June 20th and now followed it up with this amazing statement. Our hats off to those at MIT who together have made it possible. Now more than 10 leading American universities have issued such statement, a great moral encouragement to Chinese American faculty and to the spirit of a free and borderless science!
MIT and other institutions respond to UCA's call for action
To the members of the MIT community,
MIT has flourished, like the United States itself, because it has been a magnet for the world’s finest talent, a global laboratory where people from every culture and background inspire each other and invent the future, together.
Today, I feel compelled to share my dismay about some circumstances painfully relevant to our fellow MIT community members of Chinese descent. And I believe that because we treasure them as friends and colleagues, their situation and its larger national context should concern us all.
As the US and China have struggled with rising tensions, the US government has raised serious concerns about incidents of alleged academic espionage conducted by individuals through what is widely understood as a systematic effort of the Chinese government to acquire high-tech IP.
As head of an institute that includes MIT Lincoln Laboratory, I could not take national security more seriously. I am well aware of the risks of academic espionage, and MIT has established prudent policies to protect against such breaches.
But in managing these risks, we must take great care not to create a toxic atmosphere of unfounded suspicion and fear. Looking at cases across the nation, small numbers of researchers of Chinese background may indeed have acted in bad faith, but they are the exception and very far from the rule. Yet faculty members, post-docs, research staff and students tell me that, in their dealings with government agencies, they now feel unfairly scrutinized, stigmatized and on edge – because of their Chinese ethnicity alone.
Nothing could be further from – or more corrosive to – our community’s collaborative strength and open-hearted ideals. To hear such reports from Chinese and Chinese-American colleagues is heartbreaking. As scholars, teachers, mentors, inventors and entrepreneurs, they have been not only exemplary members of our community but exceptional contributors to American society. I am deeply troubled that they feel themselves repaid with generalized mistrust and disrespect.
The signal to the world
For those of us who know firsthand the immense value of MIT’s global community and of the free flow of scientific ideas, it is important to understand the distress of these colleagues as part of an increasingly loud signal the US is sending to the world.
Protracted visa delays. Harsh rhetoric against most immigrants and a range of other groups, because of religion, race, ethnicity or national origin. Together, such actions and policies have turned the volume all the way up on the message that the US is closing the door – that we no longer seek to be a magnet for the world’s most driven and creative individuals. I believe this message is not consistent with how America has succeeded. I am certain it is not how the Institute has succeeded. And we should expect it to have serious long-term costs for the nation and for MIT.
For the record, let me say with warmth and enthusiasm to every member of MIT’s intensely global community: We are glad, proud and fortunate to have you with us! To our alumni around the world: We remain one community, united by our shared values and ideals! And to all the rising talent out there: If you are passionate about making a better world, and if you dream of joining our community, we welcome your creativity, we welcome your unstoppable energy and aspiration – and we hope you can find a way to join us.
* * *
In May, the world lost a brilliant creative force: architect I.M. Pei, MIT Class of 1940. Raised in Shanghai and Hong Kong, he came to the United States at 17 to seek an education. He left a legacy of iconic buildings from Boston to Paris and China to Washington, DC, as well as on our own campus. By his own account, he consciously stayed alive to his Chinese roots all his life. Yet, when he died at the age of 102, the Boston Globe described him as “the most prominent American architect of his generation.”
Thanks to the inspired American system that also made room for me as an immigrant, all of those facts can be true at the same time.
As I have discovered through 40 years in academia, the hidden strength of a university is that every fall, it is refreshed by a new tide of students. I am equally convinced that part of the genius of America is that it is continually refreshed by immigration – by the passionate energy, audacity, ingenuity and drive of people hungry for a better life.
There is certainly room for a wide range of serious positions on the actions necessary to ensure our national security and to manage and improve our nation’s immigration system. But above the noise of the current moment, the signal I believe we should be sending, loud and clear, is that the story of American immigration is essential to understanding how the US became, and remains, optimistic, open-minded, innovative and prosperous – a story of never-ending renewal.
In a nation like ours, immigration is a kind of oxygen, each fresh wave reenergizing the body as a whole. As a society, when we offer immigrants the gift of opportunity, we receive in return vital fuel for our shared future. I trust that this wisdom will always guide us in the life and work of MIT. And I hope it can continue to guide our nation.
L. Rafael Reif
MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
77 MASSACHUSETTS AVE, W98-300 | CAMBRIDGE, MA 02139
Dean of Engineering Mary C. Boyce’s Letter to Columbia Engineering Community
Dean Boyce’s letter states that “It is important for each of us in Columbia Engineering to reflect on the importance of our commitment to maintaining an open and welcoming community for all students, faculty, researchers, and administrative staff. As a School of Engineering and Applied Science, we are fortunate to attract students and faculty from diverse backgrounds, from across the country, and from around the world.” (Chinese Translation)
Case Western Reserve University President and Provost’s Message to Faculty, Staff and Students
President Barbara R. Snyder and Provost Ben Vinson III issued an email stating that “[d]iversity is a core value at Case Western Reserve. It is essential to advancing our educational and research missions…. Integrity and transparency are also core values of our university. We all must follow government regulations and university policies…. National security is a paramount concern for all of us, but it must not be used as an excuse for isolation, discrimination or xenophobia.”
President Wallace Loh on commitment to international collaborations and the international community
President Wallace Loh wrote “to reaffirm the University of Maryland’s commitment to international collaborations and support for all faculty, students, visiting scholars, and staff on our campus from all countries, including China. American research universities, a landmark of American civilization, have thrived because of our core values of openness, academic freedom, and inclusiveness. Our universities draw talent from all over the world. In the U.S., the majority of PhDs in STEM fields are awarded to international students, many of whom eventually become U.S. residents and citizens.” Read his entire statement here.
Yale’s steadfast commitment to our international students and scholars
University President Peter Salovey issued a statement about “tensions in United States–China relations and increased scrutiny of academic exchanges have added to a sense of unease among many international students and scholars here at Yale and at universities across the country.”
The statement concludes that “I will continue to advocate for government policies that support the ability of international students and scholars to study and work in the United States. Openness—a key to the extraordinary success of America’s great research universities—must remain a hallmark of Yale.”
Message from President David Leebron to the Rice Community
The message states that “Blanket generalizations regarding any group are dangerous, and risk leading to racial
profiling and other forms of discrimination. Indeed, such discrimination has been felt more broadly by those of Asian descent, whether immigrants or not. On our campus, discrimination on the basis of citizenship, national origin or race is a clear violation of our policies. When members of our community with international backgrounds face obstacles to their freedom of movement or work, we will seek to support them. And while recognizing there are important issues that must be addressed in international relations, we will advocate forcefully for the openness of our country and institutions of higher education for both learning and research.”
University President and Provost Share Commitment to International Scholarship
University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis and Provost Robin shared this message to “reaffirm our unwavering support for our international students, faculty, staff and visitors, as well as the vital partnerships and initiatives that enable their work” after concerns were voiced regarding rhetoric and actions targeting certain international community members, such as Chinese or Chinese-American scholars.
UC Davis Reaffirms Commitment to Our International Community
The statement by four top university administrators led by Chancellor Gary S. May reiterates, “Let there be no doubt: At UC Davis, we highly value our international researchers, scholars and students. Indeed, our international relationships and collaborations form an essential part of our commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
President Schlissel discussed U-M’s support of U.S.-China research collaborations. The President’s statement reiterates that the University of Michigan is proud to support research and educational collaborations with international scholars, including those from China. He believes that “one of the underappreciated aspects of having international exchanges is that they make our world a safer place.”
Stanford Issues Statement “In Support of Our Community”
The joint blog by the president and provost states that “[a]s our country works to both advance innovation and protect national security, let us also make sure to reject prejudice and discrimination in all their forms.”
UC Berkeley Reaffirms Support for International Community
The statement was issued in response to reports of negative comments directed at Chinese-American faculty, as well as at researchers engaged in collaborations with Chinese companies and institutions.