In support of Asian and Asian-American members of our Department Community

Dear all,

Yesterday’s murder of eight people in Atlanta, six of them of Asian descent, has been widely reported as possibly a racially-movitated killing. Whatever the facts are that ultimately emerge from this tragedy, the news presents an important opportunity to acknowledge an indisputable fact; particularly since the onset of the current pandemic, Asian and Asian-American members of our community have faced a challenging landscape of racism, stereotyping, and racially-motivated harassment in the United States—with 3800 reports of hate incidents targeting Asian-Americans nationwide since last March. As we must continue to do within our own department community, MIT has taken steps to support and acknowledge these stresses, as affirmed this year by the Institute Community and Equity Office and President Reif

Asian and Asian-American students have been part of MIT’s story since at least 1877, when the first Chinese student graduated from MIT. Even a century ago, graduates from this department such as Y.Y. Wong ‘25 began shaping the cities and landscapes of Asia in turn. Today, our national and global landscape presents many challenges to understanding and engagement across cultures, including between Asia and the United States. As we continue our own work towards this goal, and acknowledge all parts of MIT’s history, let us remember that working to create understanding and support across cultures and experiences is an important way of building our own continued, and diverse identity as a community. 

We are working to organize a place for shared discussion on these issues very soon, connected to our ongoing work on strategy and equity. In the meantime, we know that our Faculty will engage and support students in all of their conversations, and make space for connecting, as well as learning from each other across the community. Our staff are ready, as always, to help connect students to resources on and off campus as needed. And we encourage all our students to share your own hopes and fears with us and each other, and remember that we are a community of life before we are a community of work. Finally, any of our community members needing support are encouraged to access MIT-wide resources for undergraduate and graduate students and staff and faculty members in need, and, as always, to meet with me as well.

With care and collaboration, and more to come,
 Nicholas de Monchaux Professor and Head of Architecture MIT 

Letter originally sent via email to the MIT Architecture Community on March 17, 2021.