A postering incident and community

February 23, 2023
Suzy M. Nelson, Vice Chancellor and Dean for Student Life | John H. Dozier, Institute Community and Equity Officer, 2020–2023 |

Dear members of the MIT community,

On Tuesday, our Bias Response Team (BRT) was alerted to flyers posted across campus, as well as chalking outside the 77 Massachusetts Avenue entrance, because they contained slurs directly targeting the LBGTQ+ community. These messages have caused significant distress, and new ones continue to appear. So we write now to share what we have learned about them, let you know that we are responding, express solidarity with those most affected, and highlight a set of support resources.

Through its initial review, the BRT learned that the messages were put up by students choosing to use extreme speech to call attention to and protest what they see as the implications of the new Statement on Freedom of Expression and Academic Freedom and aspects of the final report of the faculty Ad Hoc Working Group on Free Expression. The chalking and flyers that carried slurs were put up as part of a much larger set of flyers, expressing a wide range of views, many framed in provocative terms. We have been told that these flyers were intended to probe the boundaries of MIT’s commitment to freedom of expression and to determine how this commitment comports with MIT policies, including those on harassment.

As we address these specific incidents, we want to underscore now, on behalf of President Kornbluth and all of MIT’s senior leaders, our staunch support for the members of our LBGTQ+ community, many of whom reported to us their shock and alarm, feelings that we share. Knowing the purpose of these flyers may do little to lessen their impact, but we felt it important for the community to be aware of the facts as we know them. Below, you will find more information about resources you can turn to if you were affected by these messages and want to talk.

As our MIT values remind us, we all have an interest in fostering a thriving community grounded in mutual respect. As President Kornbluth wrote last week, reflecting on and learning how to balance these interests and values in our real lives together is the work ahead for our community.


Suzy Nelson
Vice Chancellor and Dean for Student Life

John H. Dozier
Institute Community and Equity Officer

Support Resources

  • LBGTQ+ Services: The LBGTQ+ Services team is available to talk and give support. They are located in Walker Memorial (Building 50) outside the Rainbow Lounge. The Rainbow Lounge (50–250) is a space for students where they have tap access from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.
  • DoingWell: Key support resources for the MIT community.
  • Student Mental Health and Counseling Services: Working with students to identify, understand and solve problems, and to help transform that understanding into positive action.
  • Student Support Services: An easily accessible hub of support for undergraduates.
  • GradSupport and the Graduate Assistance Information Network offer a wide variety of resources to help grad students and families deal with the unexpected.
  • MyLife Services: Free, confidential, 24/7 assistance for faculty, staff, and postdocs.
  • Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life: Chaplains are available to offer support and counsel to anyone in the MIT community.
  • Dean on Call: Students living on campus can dial 100 from campus phones or 617-253-1212 to reach MIT Police, then ask to speak to the dean on call. The dean on call is available Monday through Friday, 5 p.m.–9 a.m., and on Saturdays, Sundays, and MIT-observed holidays.