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Deans: debate should be civil

MIT is a place where ideas are debated and challenged. It is also a community. Sometimes these two notions come into conflict. An individual may feel strongly about religion and seek to share ideas. It is important that individuals respect one another. "I am not interested" means "I am not interested." The same is true for those who feel strongly about other civil and political issues. We may exchange ideas; we may differ strongly, but we must also respect those with whom we differ if dialogue is to go on.

In our office we have heard lately of repeated instances of individuals confronting those who disagree with them in ways that are unacceptable. We must respect one another enough to allow individuals to follow their own consciences. The Reserve Officers' Training Corps' policy on sexual orientation is a concern to many. Feeling strongly about this topic does not give individuals the right to harass students in uniform. MIT has gone on record disagreeing with ROTC policies discriminating against gay, lesbian and bisexual students. We are working to change things. The climate for constructive dialogue sours when we treat one another in an uncivil fashion.

The same holds true when the Boston Church of Christ recruits new members. Those with strong religious and political views look a lot alike when their righteousness propels them to ride roughshod over those who are unfortunate enough to be the object of their attention. A healthy community needs a climate of mutual respect. In such a community learning, growth and even change will take place.

We encourage those who feel they have been harassed to be in touch with our office.

Robert M. Randolph->

Assoc. Dean for Student Affairs,->

Student Assistance Services->

James R. Tewhey->

Assoc. Dean for Student Affairs,->

Residence and Campus Activities->