WASHINGTON, June 26 — Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) President L. Rafael Reif said in an email sent to the school community on Tuesday that the unfair and excessive scrutiny targeting people of Chinese decedent may “create a toxic atmosphere of unfounded suspicion and fear” and thus hurt both the world-famous research university and the United States.
“Today, I feel compelled to share my dismay about some circumstances painfully relevant to our fellow MIT community members of Chinese descent. And I believe that because we treasure them as friends and colleagues, their situation and its larger national context should concern us all,” said Reif.
“Faculty members, post-docs, research staff and students tell me that, in their dealings with government agencies, they now feel unfairly scrutinized, stigmatized and on edge – because of their Chinese ethnicity alone,” he said.
“To hear such reports from Chinese and Chinese-American colleagues is heartbreaking. As scholars, teachers, mentors, inventors and entrepreneurs, they have been not only exemplary members of our community but exceptional contributors to American society. I am deeply troubled that they feel themselves repaid with generalized mistrust and disrespect,” he went on.
The MIT president noted that national security risks are a top priority for him, but excessive scrutiny of Chinese-origin immigrants will hurt both the United States and MIT.
“In managing these risks, we must take great care not to create a toxic atmosphere of unfounded suspicion and fear,” he said.
“Protracted visa delays. Harsh rhetoric against most immigrants and a range of other groups, because of religion, race, ethnicity or national origin. Together, such actions and policies have turned the volume all the way up on the message that the U.S. is closing the door – that we no longer seek to be a magnet for the world’s most driven and creative individuals,” he said.
“I believe this message is not consistent with how America has succeeded… And we should expect it to have serious long-term costs for the nation and for MIT,” he concluded.
The MIT president’s remarks came as the U.S. government is tightening visa restrictions on Chinese students and scholars, and is unduly profiling Chinese scientists in the United States, which caused worries in the country’s scientific community. – XINHUA