Timely reminders about safety and community

October 12, 2023
Suzy M. Nelson, Vice Chancellor and Dean for Student Life |

TL;DR: Leaning into MIT values and being there for each other; Reporting posters and other media that may violate MIT policies; Personal attacks targeting individuals or groups will be taken seriously; Reach out to support resources and follow safety tips.

Dear students,

I have been impressed by the peaceful gatherings on campus that have already occurred, and I hope and expect future gatherings will be held in this same spirit. As the conflict in Israel and Gaza has deepened, however, I feel it’s important to share some reminders about guidelines and policies that enable us to live together in community. 

As President Kornbluth emphasized, we must sustain the strength of our community even in such a painful time by holding fast to our values and respecting each other. I’m grateful that, on the whole, the members of our community are more than living up to this expectation. 

Controversial messages

At the same time, we have seen a rise in divisive social media posts, flyers, chalking, and other incidents that increase tensions in our community. Unfortunately, you may be exposed to posters and other media – at MIT and elsewhere – containing misleading, unsettling, and even hurtful statements.

In keeping with MIT’s commitment to free expression, we can all share opinions and emotions about recent events. However, if you believe the content of a poster, chalking, or similar display violates Institute policy, leave it alone, take a photo, and report your concerns to the Institute Discrimination & Harassment Response Office (IDHR) or the MIT Hotline. The decision to take down a poster, chalking, or similar display based on content or viewpoint will be made in the sole discretion of a rapid response team appointed jointly by the Provost, Chancellor, Vice President for Human Resources, and the Chair of the Faculty.

And, of course, we have a role in how we respond to hateful messages. As President Kornbluth said, “Simple gestures of compassion and kindness can be incredibly important for people in the midst of such overwhelming suffering and uncertainty.”

Targeting, harassment, and threats of violence

Speech or behavior that amounts to harassment and acts (or threats of) violence, against individuals or groups, are against MIT policy. Reports of such behavior will be taken seriously. 

Your well-being and your sense of safety

We’re reaching out to students who have been directly impacted and are offering them individualized supports. If you or someone you know would benefit from support or a listening ear, I encourage you to contact MIT’s support resources. Below my signature, you’ll also find some helpful personal safety tips from MIT Police and DSL.

MIT is a strong community, and it’s even stronger when we are there for each other. I’m confident we have the wisdom to promote empathy, respect, and dignity for everyone in our MIT home. 


Suzy Nelson
Vice Chancellor and Dean for Student Life

For your personal safety

MIT Police shared the following best practices:

  • Be aware of your surroundings. If your physical safety is threatened at any time, or if you see a crime occurring or about to occur, contact MIT Police immediately at (617) 253-1212, or dial 100 from any MIT phone.
  • If you receive a threatening email that targets your life, safety, or property, refer to this information on MIT Stopit and contact MIT Police.
  • Report harassment or discrimination incidents at https://idhr.mit.edu.
  • Do not allow tailgaters, and contact MIT Police if anyone follows you into a restricted area (e.g., your residence hall, lab, or other locked area) without swiping their MIT ID.
  • Always lock your residence’s or room’s door and windows, even if you leave for a minute or two.
  • When entering or exiting a residence or other secure space, make sure the door closes tightly behind you.
  • If you intend on having guests in your residence hall, make sure you follow your house’s guest policy.
  • Learn the locations of the Blue Light emergency phones on campus and utilize SafeRide or public transportation.
  • Let your friends know when you are leaving and arriving at your destination at the end of the night.