Apologies Are Important

The MIT Media Lab has issued an apology:

Feedback from our SXSW party
We appreciate all of the feedback we’ve received about the party we hosted at The Parish Underground on Saturday night at SXSW. While we received a lot of positive responses, we want to address an issue with the wristbands that were given to people who came in the door. They were offensive and in no way reflect the sentiments of the MIT Media Lab. These wristbands were provided by the venue, and while we didn’t realize what was printed on them until after they’d been handed out, we should have prevented the situation from occurring in the first place.
The Media Lab is firmly committed to supporting women in the sciences, computing, arts, and engineering. We don’t like – and certainly don’t want to support or disseminate – offensive messaging. We appreciate those of you who noticed the wristbands and pointed them out to us; please accept our sincere apology.

Apologies are important. The text on the wristbands is not acceptable and never should have come out or in any way been affiliated with an academic institution. Academic institutions, often enough, do things wrong and need to apologize. It’s important that they do apologize when needed because it helps show what academic institutions are about, and that’s supporting the public good and humanity through research, teaching, and service. I know my stance is arguable, but this is what the mission statements say, and this is the reason I am affiliated with and so enthusiastically support and work so much to support the University of Florida. I believe in what we do. I believe it on a daily basis with interactions with students, working through research proposals, and at the highest levels of what we aspire to do in supporting humanity and the global public good. This is a lot to believe in, the work is complicated, and so apologies are a necessary part of the process when we (people and institutions) do things wrong.  Apologies are not always enough, but apologies alone go a long way in recognizing and correcting problems and the hurt caused.
Apologies are important. Apologies matter. Thank you to the MIT Media Lab for issuing this apology.