We write with heavy hearts given the news over the weekend. An attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue, where 11 people lost their lives and more, including police officers, were injured. And in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, two individuals were shot and killed outside a grocery store. Media reports suggest that the initial intended target in this case was a predominantly black Baptist church.
These despicable acts of violence can shake our sense, and our students’ sense, that we can worship freely and safely. And they occurred against the backdrop of an increasingly divisive and heated election season. It is times like these when coming together as one community is so important.
So, in the midst of this grief and uncertainty, we invite you to join us and other members of the MIT community at a vigil hosted by the Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life on Wednesday, October 31 at 12:30 p.m. on the steps of the Student Center. We hope you will be able to come together with us to reflect, to hope, and to find strength in MIT’s wonderfully diverse, inclusive, and supportive community.
We also invite you to read this MIT News 3Q with Alyce Johnson, interim Institute Community and Equity officer. She highlights that the Institute’s nondiscrimination policy, which expressly prohibits discrimination based on gender identity, will remain in place regardless of the outcome of the Massachusetts ballot question that could repeal the 2016 state law barring discrimination against transgender people.
Fundamental to MIT’s community values is respectful dialogue among people of differing backgrounds and beliefs. Alyce mentions ways our community can come together to learn from and to support one another before and after the election at sessions being planned by our colleagues in DSL and OVC. Given our experience in the days following the 2016 presidential election, it is possible that students, faculty, and staff will benefit from these opportunities to listen and to learn, or to simply take a break and to be together.
We will close by simply saying thank you for all that you do to lift the spirits of our students and our colleagues on good and bad days. We are very grateful to have all of you as partners in this vital work.
Cindy, Suzy, and Ian