MIT Media Lab’s Joi Ito resigns in the wake of Epstein coverup

MANILA, Philippines – Joi Ito, the disgraced director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, resigned from the university after it was revealed he had taken money from American financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

MIT president Rafael Reif announced Ito’s resignation in a statement posted in the university’s website on Saturday, September 7. 

“This afternoon, Joi Ito submitted his resignation as director of the Media Lab and as a professor and employee of the Institute,” said Reif.

The MIT president tagged as “deeply disturbing” The New Yorker report showing an alleged deeper fund-raising relationship between the MIT Media Lab and Epstein, who had committed suicide while awaiting trial for his sex trafficking charges.

Reif said he had directed MIT’s General Counsel to engage a prominent law firm to conduct an “immediate, thorough, and independent investigation” on the allegations against MIT Media Lab. 

“I expect the firm to conduct this review as swiftly as possible, and to report back to me and to the Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation, MIT’s governing board,” said Reif. 

The MIT president once again said the acceptance of Epstein’s gifts was a “mistake of judgement.”

“We are actively assessing how best to improve our policies, processes, and procedures to fully reflect MIT’s values and prevent such mistakes in the future. Our internal review process continues, and what we learn from it will inform the path ahead,” said Reif.  

Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at the MIT Media Lab, already quit his post in protest following the financial ties between the institution and Epstein. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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