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MIT follows up on Swartz case

In an email sent out to MIT undergraduates, the Undergraduate Association (UA) requested student input to questions that had originally been posed in the Abelson report, “MIT and the Prosecution of Aaron Swartz,” written by Professors Hal Abelson PhD ‘73 and Peter A. Diamond. President L. Rafael Reif and the Academic Council, MIT’s senior academic and administrative leaders, agreed that the report required an open discussion in the MIT community about personal ethics, MIT’s obligations to the extended community, and lessons MIT can learn from the hacker culture. Such a conversation had previously occurred with faculty members and graduate students before the UA reached out to the undergraduate community.

“Because these questions bear so directly on the expertise, interests and values of the people of MIT, I believe we should explore them, respectfully debate our differences and translate our learning into constructive action,” stated Reif in the accompanying report. Despite this call for feedback, attendance was low at both the meetings for faculty and graduate students, with only 22 faculty and 15 graduate students attending. According to the MIT News Office, faculty expressed a variety of viewpoints, ranging from suggestions for teaching students about legal boundaries on campus to recommending MIT limit data-sharing with law enforcement. Some participants at the graduate student meeting suggested MIT should have honored Swartz’s risk-taking, and others felt that students at MIT would benefit from learning about ethical/legal risks associated with computer hacking.

Then-Provost Chris A. Kaiser PhD ‘87 and Faculty Chair Steven R. Hall ‘80 were charged with leading faculty, graduate, and undergraduate discussions. Once the undergraduate discussions are compiled, Kaiser and Hall plan to present their results to Reif. “At the conclusion of our series of forums, we expect to have a good picture of what the community would most like to see addressed going forward,” stated Hall to the News Office.

To attend the forum for undergraduates, an RSVP to facultychair-reply@mit.edu by February 24th is required.

Harvard undergraduate passes away in car crash

On her way back from a Mock Trial tournament in Virginia, Angela R. Mathew, an undergraduate student attending Harvard, died in a car crash on the morning of February 10. Mathew was a neurobiology concentrator at Harvard who was competing as a member of the Harvard Mock Trial Association.

On their trip back, Mathew and six members of the team were inside a van in New Jersey when the accident occurred, according to Boston.com. KRQE News reported that Mathew herself was thrown out of the van when the crash occurred, and three other students in the van were hurt, but did not suffer serious injuries.

“As the girls she inspired grow up, Angela’s spirit will live on in a new generation of women in the sciences,” stated Co-Master of Leverett House Howard M. Georgi, in a vigil service for Mathews, according to The Crimson. More than 200 members of Harvard joined Georgi on Wednesday nights to remember Mathews and Stephen Rose, a graduate student who jumped to his death on February 6.

Mathews was a member of Leverett House, a Harvard dormitory, and hailed from Albuquerque, N.M. Along with being an executive member of the Harvard Mock Trial Association, Mathews was also the president of the Harvard science club for girls. “She would want us to smile,” Kaleigh N. Henry, a Harvard undergraduate, said in memory of Mathew at Harvard’s vigil.

—Patricia Dominguez and Tushar Kamath