PUBLIC LETTER TO THE MIT CORPORATION: Voice Your Concern! MIT and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Monday, April 22, 2019 - 11:00am

Dismay over MIT's relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the decision to continue all ties with the Kingdom, despite its direct role in creating a devastating humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has spurred many in the community to take action. These actions include hosting educational events throughout the semester and submitting a public letter to the MIT corporation. Please see below for many resources and information.

Here is the link to the LETTER. We ask you to consider the ethical implications of this complex relationship and to explore ways to encourage the MIT administration to create an ethical framework that truly considers the moral implications of the Insitute's actions.


On Thursday, December 6, Radius and the MIT Faculty Newsletter hosted a program that examined the relationship between the Saudi monarchy and MIT. That morning, Provost Richard Lester sent his conclusions to President Reif regarding this relationship in a letter that was made available to the MIT community and beyond. In the letter, the Provost states, "I judge that the balance of actual and potential impacts, postive and negative, weighs in favor of a continuation of these relationships." 

We, as a community, were invited to comment on this letter until January 15th. We urged everyone to send their thoughts and comments. At the end of the comment period, the MIT Administration decided to do nothing and maintain its full ties to the Kingdom. 

Below, please find many links and resources. Thank you.


A video recording of a recent event at the Cambridge Public Library: Whose University Is It? Fighting for Democratic and Transparent Decision-Making on Campus. Also: A short video of Yemeni scholar and activist, Shireen Al-Adeimi that was recorded for this event.

A recent article in the New York Times reporting on MbS's brutal suppression of dissenters.

Listen to MIT students and faculty on Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon!

President Reif's letter to the MIT Community declaring that no changes will be made in the MIT/Saudi relationship.

Read recent article in EdSurge/Higher Education on the College of Computer.

Read a recent Letter to the Editor in The Tech by Professor Frank Solomon.

At the bottom of this page, please read excerpts from an editorial published in the Boston Globe. 

Read Provost Lester's "report" to President Reif on the MIT/Saudi relationship dated December 6, 2018.

Read an editorial by Professor Rajogopal in the most recent edition of the MIT Faculty Newsletter

Read the lead editorial in the most recent edition of the MIT Faculty Newsletter

Read a recent guest editorial/open letter to President Reif  in THE TECH by MIT Graduate Students.

Read the response by President Reif.

Read Associate Provost Richard Lester's letter to the MIT faculty.    

Read this recent article in The Guardian.

Here is an excerpt from an Letter to the Editor in the Boston Globe written by Professor Jonathan King, Professor Sally Haslanger, Professor Balakrishnan Rajagopal and Patricia-Maria Weinmann, Associate Director of Radius. The full letter can be found here (if you have a Boston Globe subscription).

"....Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s suspected complicity in the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi; the Saudi military aggression in Yemen that has resulted in the deaths of more than 1,200 children, while an estimated 13 million Yemenites could soon face starvation, according to October UN reports; bin Salman’s imprisonment of hundreds of supporters of a constitutional government and leaders of the women’s rights movement; and the Saudi role in suppressing the 2011 democracy movement in Bahrain. 

The Saudi war crimes make it difficult to maintain that the MIT-Saudi collaboration supports MIT’s mission of advancing science and education to “best serve the nation and the world”.