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Few big donors could pass a purity test

I’ve read with great interest your multiple articles on Jeffrey Epstein’s ties to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and, now, Harvard (“MIT, Harvard reveal more Epstein ties,” Page A1, Sept. 13). In the late 1960s, a landlord, Maurice Gordon, was set to donate millions of dollars to the Boston University School of Nursing, where I was a student. Protests arose, and the donation was rejected. Subsequently, the School of Nursing closed.

Big money is hard to come by for universities, cultural institutions, hospitals, and other nonprofits.

Yes, there are a few squeaky-clean billionaires, but how many? If these esteemed institutions start rejecting money made by crooks, robber barons, and other unsavory sources, they might as well close their doors. There are very few names on our Boston institutions whose money was made without sin.

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Let’s stop being self-righteous, and let the sinners repent with the money they earned with their nefarious deeds. Redemption has many paths.

Laura Logue Rood

Boston

Institutions face challenges as federal funding shrinks

The way in which MIT handled Jeffrey Epstein is deplorable (“MIT female faculty confront president,” Page A1, Sept. 19). It is also a reflection of a deeper problem in science. As federal funding has tightened, scientific institutions have turned increasingly to wealthy donors. While most donors are decent and well-meaning, many of them are attracted by science that is glitzy or serves a political goal. As competition for their largesse has become keener, it is easy for scientific institutions to lose sight of their mission and standards.

Andrew R. Solow

Woods Hole

Epstein scandal is of a piece with MIT’s Saudi partnerships

Earlier this year, MIT did some soul-searching about the funding it obtains from Saudi Arabia, and produced the Lester report on the issue. On Feb. 6, president L. Rafael Reif wrote a letter to the MIT community, saying, in part, that the Lester report “explores the full range of competing factors to consider, including faculty autonomy, the social and scientific value of the work we undertake with Saudi people and entities, the challenge of working in a nation so out of step with our commitment to inclusion and free expression, and our community’s deep sense of revulsion at actions of the Saudi regime.

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“Ultimately, the report concludes that if MIT faculty wish to continue their current engagements with colleagues, students, and public and private research sponsors in Saudi Arabia, they should be free to do so, as long as these projects remain consistent with MIT policies and procedures and US laws and regulations.”

Reif wrote, “I agree with these recommendations.”

MIT senior leadership’s apparent decision to allow the Media Lab to accept donations from Jeffrey Epstein, albeit under some conditions aimed at reducing the benefit Epstein would obtain from his association with MIT, should not come as a surprise in light of the principles articulated in Reif’s Feb. 6 letter.

L. Beril Toktay

Atlanta

The writer holds a doctoral degree from MIT.

Serial abusers have been enabled in a range of sectors

The Globe’s revelations about MIT’s quietly cozy relationship with Jeffrey Epstein (“At MIT, an Epstein gift brings regret, soul searching,” front page, Sept. 14), and the new book “She Said” by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, showcase a network of enablers disguised as lawyers, lab directors, consultants, and business partners. This enabler class deemed laboratory supplies, or movie scripts, more valuable than lives shattered by sexual violence.

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Everyday Americans become enablers when they cheer an NFL team whose gifted running back beats his fiancee. Tribal politics asks voters to support their party’s candidates and chosen judges, even when credible allegations of predatory behavior and sexual misconduct surface.

When profits, academic research, or political advantage matters more than a woman’s humanity, society learns to tolerate and protect the sexual aggression of prominent men. As long as we allow abusers to shine among us, or as long as we provide them with cover, violence against women will remain a sickening staple of American life.

Maryellen Donnellan

Falls Church, Va.

Must Epstein be known, on first reference, for his finances?

In the ongoing coverage about Jeffrey Epstein and his secret donations, I think it is appropriate that the Globe replace the first phrase usually used to describe Epstein, “disgraced financier,” with “convicted sex offender.”

Articles often cite that he was convicted of soliciting a minor for prostitution, but let’s call that what it actually is — the sexual abuse of someone’s child. If anyone is disgraced now, it’s Harvard, MIT, and the individuals who accepted money from this convicted sex offender.

Janice Zazinski

Medford