With any hope of plausible deniability over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal dissolving, MIT President L. Rafael Reif is facing down his own illustrious institution and alumni as current and former students call for him to step down.
In a statement Thursday, Reif revealed that senior MIT administration members knew that the Media Lab had accepted money from Epstein’s foundation as recently as 2017.
Reif also disclosed that MIT’s own investigation surfaced a 2012 thank-you letter to Epstein bearing Reif’s own signature. The note thanked Epstein for a gift to MIT Physics Professor Seth Lloyd.
In his statement, Reif described the gift as the first—“as far as we know now”—that MIT accepted following the billionaire pedophile’s 2008 conviction for procurement of minors for prostitution. “Although I do not recall it, it does bear my signature,” Reif wrote.
Calls for the MIT president’s resignation bubbled up less than 24 hours after Reif came clean about the administration’s involvement with Epstein.
In an MIT women’s alumni Facebook group, former students expressed outrage at the news, asking the group’s administrators where they should direct their demands for Reif’s resignation. The group’s administrators directed the members to write to MIT Corporation, the research university’s board of trustees.
On Friday afternoon, current students and alumni held a protest event called “They Knew: Speak-out against MIT-Epstein Scandal.” At the time of writing, almost 100 people had RSVP’d to the event, held at MIT’s Stratton Student Center.
“Accepting money linked to Jeffrey Epstein wasn’t just disgusting and immoral,” the group’s organizers wrote. “It violated MIT’s own donor policies. Any senior administrators who knew about these donations MUST RESIGN IMMEDIATELY.”
The event’s speakers included MIT alum and Cambridge City Council member Quinton Zondervan and MIT Media Lab Research Assistant Arwa Michelle Mboya.
Another speaker calling for Reif’s resignation drew a surprising comparison, likening the venerated research university’s enlightened public image—versus its shady behind-the-scenes dealings—to the NFL.