M.I.T. Media Lab in Crisis After 2 Scholars Vow to Leave Over Epstein Ties


In a separate Medium post on Wednesday, Mr. Matias said that he, too, would be splitting with the lab after the academic year. In his role as a visiting scholar over the past two years, Mr. Matias worked on a project that involved research on protecting women and other vulnerable people from online abuse and harassment, he wrote.

“I cannot with integrity do that from a place with the kind of relationship that the Media Lab has had with Epstein,” he wrote. “It’s that simple.”

Mr. Matias wrote that he had not been aware of Mr. Ito’s ties to Mr. Epstein and that none of Mr. Epstein’s money was funneled to him or his project.

Reaction among Media Lab students seemed mixed. Arwa Mboya, a member of the Center for Civic Media, the group run by Mr. Zuckerman, said of Mr. Ito, “We need to set an example for the future, and just forgiving him because he’s super-talented is hypocritical.”

While she praised the lab’s director for “thinking outside the box,” she criticized his apology for not directly addressing whether or not he knew of the allegations against Mr. Epstein before he said the two had met in 2013. She was also critical of the school’s denial to Reuters that the Media Lab had accepted his money.

Sharifa Alghowinem, a computer scientist from Saudi Arabia who said she had recently begun a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Media Lab, said she believed it was not the research center’s responsibility to investigate the source of its donations, but only to put the money to use in the advancement of science.

“As long as we are doing well with this money, we shouldn’t care,” she said.

Mr. Ito, who grew up in Tokyo and the United States, was an unorthodox choice for the job of Media Lab director, a post he took in 2011 after it was offered to him by one of the center’s founders, Nicholas Negroponte, an architect, digital pioneer and longtime M.I.T. faculty member.



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