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A Letter to the MIT Architecture Community

Dear All,

I am writing to apologize to our larger community, and to the specific students involved, for errors in an Instagram post from MIT Architecture this weekend.

Unfortunately, a post celebrating graduating students used incorrect photos found online to identify two of our undergraduate degree recipients, Zidane Abubakar and Qicheng Zhao. We would be deeply embarrassed to have incorrectly identified our students under any circumstances. But the fact that these were two of our students of color means there are even more substantial issues to address.

However this happened is immaterial to the fact that it was unacceptable; it allowed us to convey, however inaccurately, the message that these students were unrecognized and unvalued. We would regret misidentifying any student, but the painful legacy of ignorance and prejudice about race and appearance makes the mistake all the more important to correct, and learn from.

We have apologized profoundly to both students involved and their families. At the same time, we have started a process of examining how we can ensure accuracy, sensitivity, and diversity in all our public media. 

The efforts and achievements of this year’s graduates deserve a quality of celebration and recognition that, despite our best efforts, we are unable to give during our current crisis. This is all the more reason to take care in the online media that now bring us together. Against a background of the ongoing tragedies tied to race in this country, and discrimination against those from outside it, we must do all we can to communicate generously, effectively, and with care for all. 

With my apologies on behalf of the entire Department,

Nicholas de Monchaux
Head, Department of Architecture