‘We are proving that the mob is not at all omnipotent,’ group leader said
An upstart Massachusetts Institute of Technology group said it plans to continue to fight for free speech and open debate heading into its second semester.
While not all students and faculty agree with Students for Open Inquiry’s speakers, “they appreciate the significance of our mission in the grand scheme of restoring free speech to campus,” Spencer Sindhusen told The College Fix via email. Sindhusen said he is the “co-pilot” of the new group.
MITSOI will host more speakers for MIT students and the general public in the spring, such as MIT Emeritus Professor Richard Lindzen, “who [the university] has censored due to his unconventional views on climate science,” Sindhusen told The Fix.
On Nov. 30, the group hosted Steve Kirsch (pictured, right), an entrepreneur, inventor, and COVID-19 vaccine critic, who delivered a talk on vaccine data and censorship in academia, The Fix previously reported.
Kirsch “red-pilled a packed audience,” according to a news release from the group. “Drawing on sources from New Zealand, Israel, and the Maldives, and examining US nursing home data, Kirsch painted a devastating picture never displayed before by mainstream outlets.”
The Fix reached out twice over the past two weeks to MIT Professor Robert Langer, who turned down Kirsch’s $10M offer to debate vaccines at his MITSOI event, Kirsch reported in his Substack newsletter. Langer did not respond to requests for comment.
The group also offered a question and answer session with Republican presidential candidate Hirsh Singh, who addressed topics such as American economics and the Ukraine-Russia conflict. In an email exchange with MITSOI posted to its website, a group whose name MITSOI had redacted suggested via email the event be canceled because of Singh’s criticisms of transgender ideology and “gender-affirming care.”
“Singh’s views, as outlined on his website, appear to be not just conservative but actively harmful, particularly towards transgender individuals,” the group stated.
Group captain Adam Deng told The Fix via email that though the full spring speaker list is “secret,” the group “will proceed as [it] did in the fall—perhaps not so frequently as a speaker every week.”
“We will maintain our high engagement with the MIT community, speakers, and onlookers,” he said. “For spring speakers, we prioritize MIT alumni and notable public figures, especially those with multidisciplinary ventures or unique/unusual discoveries.”
Deng also wrote of the impact the group has made on campus.
“I hear us discussed at lunch conversations, in club activities, and certainly in school news and email, in which we are variously praised for our bravery and detested for our platforming non-establishment ideas,” he said.
“The most important student feedback is the encouragement we have received from students who share dissenting views, of which there are surprisingly many,” he wrote.
“We are proving that the mob is not at all omnipotent, and it only takes a few dedicated musketeers to restore MIT’s spirit of free, fearless discovery,” Deng said.
The group’s website states the group “will lead MIT out of the darkness of Prof. Dorian Abbot’s cancellation in 2021.” MIT had invited Abbot, a geophysicist at the University of Chicago, to lecture in 2021, only to cancel his invitation over concerns about his views on affirmative action, as The Fix previously reported.
According to a 2022 MIT faculty governance report, 84 percent of students surveyed said they felt they could not “express [their] opinion on a subject because of how students, a professor, or the administration would respond.” In addition, conservative students were four times more likely to report this feeling than their liberal peers.
Staff at MIT echoed concerns over self-censorship, with many identifying the “organizational power structure” as a major restriction on their freedom of expression, according to the report.
The Fix also reached out to MIT’s department head of political science, David Singer; the president of MIT’s Undergraduate Association, Andre Hamelberg; and a representative of MIT’s Institute Community & Equity Office twice over the past week. None responded to requests for comment.
IMAGE: Adam Deng