August 27, 2020

To the members of the Class of 2021,

MIT has felt pretty empty without you. It will be wonderful to have you back!

This semester, you and I are both trying to do something new and difficult: In the middle of a pandemic, I am trying to run a college safely, and you are trying to go to college safely.

I believe we all really want this to work. And we all know it’s going to be one of the hardest things we have ever done.

Back when you were applying to college, I expect part of what attracted you to MIT was the way we treat our students: As people who can make their own decisions about how to run their lives.

This semester, you will also have to make decisions about other people’s lives – hundreds and hundreds of routine daily decisions, any one of which could expose yourself and others to the awful risks of Covid-19.

In terms of testing and cleaning and quarantining and every other kind of practical preparation, the staff and faculty are doing everything they can to make this semester work.

I know I can trust you to do the same.

Let’s show the world what it means to be a school that believes in science. And please remember that, as seniors, you are not the only undergraduates on campus this semester – but you are the leaders. If you can model the solution, you will blaze a trail for bringing many more students back next spring – so MIT can really feel like MIT again.

Welcome back, welcome home.

L. Rafael Reif