MIT Students Arrested Protesting Hosting of $11M Israel Drone Program – 23 Suspended – Press Release from SAGE @ MIT 5/9/2024

Press Release from organizers of SAGE @ MIT | Published Thursday, May 9 @ 11PM

MIT suspends, evicts, and arrests their own students engaging in non-violent, peaceful protest against MIT’s continued ties to Israeli military

Today, police forces on MIT campus brutally handled, injured, and arrested at least 9 MIT students and grad workers peacefully engaging in non-violent protest. This escalation and violence comes 1 day after MIT’s decision to suspend 23 students for non-violent protest. MIT also evicted several students from campus housing, including those who have families with children, those with disabilities, low-income students, and veterans.

This violent escalation was in response to a non-violent action by students from the MIT Scientists Against Genocide Encampment (MIT SAGE). Students gathered outside the Stata garage on MIT’s campus to demand that MIT end all research ties with the Israeli military. This focused demand has majority support from the MIT student population, and is similar to actions MIT took after the invasion of Ukraine.

The action by MIT SAGE at the MIT Stata garage was intended to stop business as usual for MIT. Students are pressuring the University administration to end research ties with the Israeli military, the only foreign Ministry of Defense with whom MIT collaborates. This funding has been renewed as recently as this past March.

In response to the nonviolent student action at the MIT Stata garage, police at MIT forcefully handled and shoved MIT students to the ground, using unnecessary and extreme force to move, detain and arrest students engaging in the non-violent protest demonstration. Students have video evidence of the police assaults.

“The protest started peacefully as we linked hands in front of the parking garage of the Stata building, which is where much of the research for the Israeli Ministry of Defense is conducted. Within minutes, the MIT police turned things violent and attacked us, injuring several students. I was violently shoved and grabbed multiple times by the police before they arrested me.” states one of the arrested students, Ruth Hanna, MIT Graduate Student Union Vice President.

Today’s violent escalation in response to the anti-genocide student protesters follows the MIT administration’s decision to issue interim suspension notices to 23 participants in the MIT Scientists Against Genocide Encampment (MIT SAGE) encampment. In many cases, suspension notices directed students to “leave campus immediately” and barred them from housing, food, employment, extracurricular activities, and participating in commencement, without any form of due process.

Zeno of MIT Graduates 4 Palestine, who received a suspension notice and is being evicted from their housing, stated, “I have a wife and child. Leaving immediately is impossible for us and puts my child’s well-being at risk.”

Quinn Perian, student organizer with MIT Jews for Ceasefire stated, “It is clear that MIT is using its leverage over students’ well-being to shut down speech that threatens to expose its continued complicity in genocide.”

Students, faculty, and alumni have organized to document arrests, advocate for students’ rights to engage in nonviolent protests, and offer support, including meals and housing, to suspended and evicted students. The MIT administration is actively causing harm to peaceful protesting students while claiming that the suspensions are for “the safety and well-being of the MIT community”.

The context

  • SAGE has a clear and focused demand to MIT: end all research contracts sponsored by the Ministry of Defense of Israel.
  • Since 2015, MIT has received over $4 million in authorized research funding from the Ministry of Defense of Israel. This research is for the material benefit of the Israeli military and their war crimes against Palestinian civilians.
  • These funds are only 0.03% of total MIT research funding, and 0.2% of MIT’s defense funding.
  • There is broad support for SAGE’s demands across MIT. Both the undergraduate and graduate student bodies have passed resolutions via democratic election calling to cut research and financial ties with the Israeli military. 40+ faculty and 700+ alumni have released statements in support of SAGE’s demands.
  • Hundreds of MIT alumni have signed a pledge to withhold donations from MIT until MIT makes substantial progress toward meeting SAGE’s demands.

MIT precedence

Nonviolent protests against collaboration with entities engaged in human rights violations and war have precedence at MIT.

In the late 1960s, MIT students protesting the Vietnam War engaged in nonviolent protest actions, including occupying the student center for 10 days and doing a sit-in at MIT’s Center for International Studies.

In the late 1980s, MIT students built a shantytown encampment in the same location as the current one to call upon MIT to divest from companies doing business in South Africa.

On February 25, 2022 — the day after the invasion of Ukraine — MIT cut funding ties with the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), a Russian university, stating “This step is a rejection of the actions of the Russian government in Ukraine.” This precedent demonstrates that MIT can act decisively and quickly when it sees moral clarity.

Who we are

MIT SAGE is a coalition of students, researchers, faculty and staff who are organizing to demand that the MIT community immediately end all research ties with the Israeli military.

For more information and requests for interview, comment:

SAGE Media Liaison


Please include: preferences for the individual you would like to speak with (ex: a graduate student, a member of a particular organization), a question list and a timeline for your piece to be connected to the appropriate folks faster.

The following is the tweeted response from MIT Jews for Cease Fire:

After many meetings w/you, Pres Kornbluth, where you sympathized with our cause and our Jewish experiences, we are distraught that you and your comms dept have erased pro-Palestinian Jewish presence and dismissed the encampment as a “situation” w/no apparent cause or goal.

Your statement completely ignores the fact that the encampment exists because MIT refuses to divest from the Israeli Ministry of Defense and the ongoing genocide in Gaza.

To claim that the encampment is the one creating an unsafe campus for anyone on MIT campus is absurd: MIT is making its Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and yes, even Jewish students less safe because of its insistence in taking the money of a genocidal government.

You frame the encampment as a magnet for trouble, placing responsibility for any potential external violence or escalation on us. If MIT is serious about protecting its students from trouble, it should be more engaged toward meeting our demands.

You refer to a foreign consulate-sponsored rally as being “in support of our Israeli and Jewish students”—the very students who said we “support terrorists” & made countless antisemitic attacks against us b/c we dare call out Israel. Are we not your Israeli & Jewish students too?

Stop perpetuating the false narrative that this is a Jewish vs Palestinian/Arab/Muslim issue. It’s an issue of supporting/opposing a govt that’s actively committing genocide and is guilty of countless violations of international human rights law in Palestine & the broader region.

As previously reported:

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Earlier today 4/26

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Looking for more informaition.



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