Dear Phil, Penny, Martin and Dara,

I hope all is well on this Jane Eyre afternoon of rain and thunder. Here on the home front I’m still trying to get on the other side of CEE’s continued animus toward me. Think Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables, but without the loaf of bread.

In any case, apparently I am now a cyberstalker. Not the Wikipedia sort of cyberstalker. Not even the MIT sort. No, just the CEE sort. The argument against me, the actual stalking, is contained in the email that I sent on August 2 to the Parsons mailing list, "A Building Manager’s Story.” The irony would kill Dumbo. I put everything I was most proud of in that PDF, and Bori cancels my MIT email. To do that, you have to tell MIT Information Systems, along with the NSE AO who was sponsoring my email, that I am a cyberstalker.  It would be too depressing to list the consequences this has had for my reputation, my spirits, and my prospects of employment.  I wish the ACLU had a field office at MIT. 

My efforts to date to redress this have all failed, partly because the story is so preposterous that it’s impossible to provide enough context for this kind of accusation. But the main problem is that Bori uses the language of  harassment against women — harassment, threatening behavior, cyberstalking — to describe me. I’ve even been told to stay away from Bldg 1 because people there feel threatened by me. Bori simply has to say it and itbecomes a fact in my life, with a shelf life that would give plutonium pause. I’m never told of it, never asked to respond. It's unbelievably easy to kill someone's career.

  • I asked for an electronic version of the CEE logo and that led to the first ‘complaint’ against me and my first disciplinary meeting with Angela.
  • I write the sentence “I won’t be bullied” in an email and ever afterward that is used to justify the characterization that I am a threatening person.
  • And I created a pdf to describe my work at Parsons because I was proud, because I wanted a record of that work, and because I though it possible the person making hiring decisions might not know what I had accomplished. And the result is that I’m accused of being a cyberstalker.

None of this has anything to do with me. It is part of an unresolved relationship between the Parsons Lab and Bldg 1. None of my work was ever going to be recognized, Phil’s best efforts notwithstanding. So I am simply trying to extricate myself, but CEE’s continued animus makes me feel like... I've run out of metaphors. How can I say anything without invoking the specter of ‘threatening behavior’? It doesn’t matter that I have 27 years of advocacy, action, that I think I’ve done more in support of women at MIT than nearly any other person I know.

X said that Angela made her cry “at least once a week,” and she wasn’t saying that as a complaint. She was just saying that that’s Angela being Angela. Women are very often not advocates for themselves. And Bori is certainly not an advocate for anyone, and to my mind she's worse, she's an enabler of a bully.  Angela herself said that Markus has spoken to her on multiple occasions about the way Angela speaks to CEE Headquarters staff. Was Markus concerned about the staff crying? Was he concerned that Angela removed the screens and partitions that used to give the Headquarters staff some privacy? Was he concerned that Angela rotated all the desks so that the staff are lined up like children in a kindergarten ? That is about control. It may not be bullying, but it’s as adjacent as b is to c.

What astonishes me is how simply this could be addressed if someone tried to redress it. That, finally, is my only real criticism of MIT, that the default tendency is to expediency. I came by Parsons last week to pick up more of my stuff, and John MacFarlane told me about the graduate lounge going into Serguei’s office. It copies an idea that I initiated, but it misinterprets that idea entirely. Putting the postdoc lounge where it is solved a bunch of different problems that needed to be solved. And it didn’t happen because the room was empty. I had to negotiate every inch of it. But Serguei’s office is completely wrong for the grad lounge. It would be much better to go into the room where Harry’s electronics are. But that would require a strategy, it would require conversations. Harry wants a showcase for his submarines, and he would be open to an alternative location if in the end it works out to his benefit. And the corner room would be right for the graduate students. But Serguei’s office is empty, so that’s the end of the story.

Same for the two job descriptions that were posted to replace me. Angela told me a few days before my review that I wasn’t being considered for a promotion or a raise, and furthermore, that the subject of my review would be my ‘threatening’ behavior. So I submitted my notice. Then CEE posted my job as two separate jobs, which acknowledges the volume of work that I was doing but which they refused to recognize.

But my point is that CEE just blows the dust off existing job descriptions, without reimagining what they jobs actually require. The job description for the stuff staff person for yourself is not remotely near to what you or Parsons need. Ask Bo Richardson, a woman that Bori hired a year or so ago and who lasted a week because of how misguided those CEE support staff job descriptions are. And don’t even get me started on the Assistant to the Director position, with its requirement for a high school education.

But this finally is the thing I want to say, this is what led me to withdraw my notice a few days after I submitted it. The world is in free fall. We’re not where we were even a year ago. Every leader at MIT and in Washington certainly understands that, and is trying to find the way forward. The challenge that we face is equivalent to the challenge that we’ll face with climate change. It requires each of us to make a sacrifice in our expectations, just as World War II required a relaxing of living standards. So all this arguing, all this separation, all this mind boggling waste of money and effort that characterizes CEE’s relationship with the Parsons Lab, seems so objectionable to me. But perhaps one has to be unemployed to feel that as keenly as I do, not because I feel more vulnerable but because I have the time to read. Good golly, none of the news is good!

OK, apologies. I’ve been trying to get this story out for so long that I hope it brings some relief to have done so. Because it’s been truly awful to have my MIT career end in such a squalid way. No other word feels right. Not so much the part through April, but everything that’s happened in the epilogue afterward. I feel too ashamed even to go on Linked In and try to put a good face on it. For me, that was the gift that our relationship brought, the ability to disagree without losing hold of the friendship. That’s the only way change is possible. And change is urgently needed. Not radical change, just a series of course corrections. But if CEE just blows the dust off the status quo, then change will never come.

Ok, rant over! All this to the side, I send warm regards.

Cheers,
Edmund