MIT Should Do Better

06/14/2017 06:12 am ET Updated Jun 16, 2017

All universities need money for research and student support, but they do not have to advertise and glorify the name of donors whose practices go against everything that a world-class university should stand for.

David Koch of Koch Industries, a company that among other activities refines over 600,000 barrels of oil per day and owns an extensive network of oil pipelines, is an MIT graduate. He has funded the campaign to discredit the overwhelming scientific evidence confirming global warming, backed the effort to replace the ACA with legislation that could deny affordable healthcare to over 25 million Americans, and has infected America’s democratic system with millions of dollars to elect candidates who support his political agenda and business interests.

MIT has taken money from David Koch to finance the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. While this research could be important for humanity, should MIT advertise and glorify the Koch name? If David Koch were truly concerned with human wellbeing, would he not have given the money anonymously or could MIT not have asked him to donate anonymously? If David Koch were devoted to pursuing humanity’s interest, would he do all that he is doing to subvert efforts to save our planet and deny Americans access to affordable healthcare?

MIT prides itself on the contributions of its faculty and students to science and engineering, but how ironic it is that MIT is advertising the name of a man who uses his financial muscle and does all he can to discredit and undermine overwhelming scientific findings! And how ironic it is that MIT has an institute dedicated to cancer research named after the Koch family while the Koch brothers fund efforts to deny affordable healthcare to millions of Americans!

I well remember that MIT, my alma mater, took pride in its courageous faculty such as Noam Chomsky and Franco Modigliani, who spoke out against the Vietnam War, and Norbert Weiner who would not engage in or publish research that could land in irresponsible hands. It was a moral MIT that divested itself of the Instrumentation and Lincoln Laboratories where weapons research and missile guidance technology were being developed and supported with hundreds of millions of dollars in government funding. It was a democratic MIT that allowed protests on campus in the 1960s. What has happened to the MIT that I was so proud of?

The United States and the world needs institutions such as MIT to stand up against those who use their financial power to undermine scientific findings and deny basic human rights, especially when humanity faces existential threats from global warming and millions of Americans are in need of affordable healthcare. Public service and morality must be integral to the education of young men and women at world-class institutions of higher learning. MIT should do its part and lead by example.