Assist our mission, form the dialog
As I look back at the beginning of the pandemic, I am impressed by the formidable strength of our community. As of March 2020, we didn't know what it would take to keep MIT's grand mission going through this crisis. Since then we've found a way together and made it work. This achievement belongs to every member of our community – and thanks to our immense collective efforts, MIT is still MIT. We share the same passion for the institute's mission, the same practical optimism, and the same view of the future. And many members of our community, including our alumni, are actively engaged in research and innovation to better understand the virus and help humanity contain it.
As the United States strives to respond to complex crises from Covid-19 to climate change, I believe that our community's perspective – analytical, hands-on, fact-and-science, tuned to complex systems, and fearless of difficult problems – should be very well represented in national discussions.
One way that each of us can contribute is through voting. So I'm excited to highlight the ongoing work of MITvote, a student-run, non-partisan organization that focuses solely on encouraging MIT students to register, vote, and civic engagement. Thanks to MITvote, the voter turnout of our students more than tripled between 2014 and 2018. And last fall, MITvote volunteers personally emailed 7,502 MIT students who are US citizens to help each of them create a voting plan.
The results of MITvote would be impressive on any campus. But I especially admire his success because I've been at MIT long enough to know that people who focus deeply on science and technology sometimes feel that politics isn't for them. They may believe that it is irrational, or even irrelevant, or that one voice cannot make a difference.
For those of you who think so, I want to rephrase the subject. When we listen to a symphony orchestra, with all the sound, adding a single instrument can be difficult. But when the entire brass section starts playing, everything changes. So I hope that each of us can imagine voting this way: Not as a “solo” gesture. Not as the act of a single person, which may or may not be noticed. But as a great common civic act that we all perform together in concert.
As individuals, we naturally disagree on many issues. However, I believe that through active community engagement, including voting at the local, state, and federal levels and beyond, people at MIT can be of great benefit to their communities and society at large.