An update on Standing Together Against Hate
Dear members of the MIT community,
Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, a sharp and disturbing rise in slurs and attacks against Jews, Israelis, Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims has been documented across the United States. On our own campus, the war has caused real tension between some groups and individuals.
As you know, on November 14, we announced Standing Together Against Hate.
Under that banner, January’s IAP will mark the start of an extensive suite of efforts – for and by the people of MIT – to confront the corrosive power of hate and to help bring our community together.
Many of these activities are open to the whole community. I encourage you to take part.
As plans crystallize for the spring semester and beyond, we’ll keep you updated. And please keep sending us your ideas: our strength in this work stems from the creativity and determination of the people of MIT.
Update on Standing Together Against Hate
The launch phase for Standing Together Against Hate will run through January’s Independent Activities Period (IAP) into the spring semester.
Here are some highlights, arranged in three categories:
- Community building
For administrative, academic, and staff leaders
- Training for Academic Council: Over IAP, Academic Council will receive training to address antisemitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Arab hate.
- Engaging with DEI staff: Engaging with MIT’s DEI professionals, many of whom have extensive training in how to address antisemitism and Islamophobia, we're selecting best-in-class programs and arranging for any additional training DEI staff may need.
- IAP sessions for students: During IAP’s "I Am a LEADer” conference for undergraduate and graduate students, Rabbi Michelle Fisher will lead training on antisemitism, and Sister Nada El-Alami will lead training on Islamophobia. These sessions will be offered again after IAP as well.
For the whole community
- Online course on Middle East history and contrasting narratives: From December 18 through January 3, the MIT Center for International Studies will offer access to recordings of its well-received three-session online course designed for the whole MIT community: “Israel, Palestine, Gaza Before and After October 7: Understanding Historical Context and Contrasting Narratives.” Boston College Professor Peter Krause PhD ’11 will host a concluding virtual Q&A session on January 3.
- Expert speakers: This spring, three outside speakers will come to campus to share their expertise:
- Pamela Nadell, director of the Jewish Studies Program at American University, who is an expert on antisemitism in the United States
- Dalia Mogahed, director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, where she leads their work on issues affecting American Muslims
- Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California Berkeley School of Law, a free speech expert who recently wrote an op-ed in the LA Times about antisemitism on college campuses.
- Constructive listening sessions in our residence halls: Professor Deb Roy SM ’95, PhD ’99 and his team from the MIT Center for Constructive Communication (CCC) have developed a program of small group facilitated conversations and digital tools that help build a culture of listening and dialogue. Early in the spring semester, CCC will begin working with the House Team and GRAs in one of our undergraduate residences. The goal is to enable people with opposing views to listen to each other, not by striving to change each other’s minds but by focusing on each other’s humanity. We plan to roll the program out to other residences.
For the whole community
- IAP class on constructive dialogue: Over IAP in the W20 Wellbeing Lab, the Division of Student Life (DSL) and Comparative Media Studies will facilitate a class built on the model of the Constructive Dialogue Institute, a group skilled in helping “people discuss complex and divisive topics with ease, even when they disagree,” and work in teams together.
- Enhanced online community toolkit for sensitive conversations: Some faculty and staff members report feeling ill-equipped to manage conversations on topics as sensitive as the current war in the Middle East and its effects in our community. Working with Rabbi Michelle Fisher and Sister Nada El-Alami, DSL, the Institute Community and Equity Office, and the Teaching and Learning Lab (TLL) have enhanced the online Community Toolkit with practical steps for discussing sensitive subjects. It has already been shared with residential house teams, student leaders, and faculty.
- Faculty Community Seed Fund: As announced to faculty and instructors on December 18, we’ll use IAP to pilot the Community Building Seed Grant Fund to encourage faculty- and instructor-led projects for community building, with a focus on addressing antisemitism and Islamophobia on campus.
- MindHandHeart funding for community-building projects: As a companion to the community seed fund for faculty and instructors, this spring the MindHandHeart Chancellor’s innovation fund will include a new funding stream along these same lines, to support projects led by students and staff.