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The MIT Media Lab threw a party at South By Southwest, the giant entertainment-and-tech conference in Austin, Texas, on Saturday night. But people weren’t talking about the party.They were talking about the wristbands issued to attendees, which featured suggestive pick-up lines.
People on Twitter were not amused:
— Richard George (@parsingphase) March 10, 2013
— Deborah Gussman (@DebGussman) March 10, 2013
The uproar caused the MIT Media Lab to issue this apology on a blog post today:
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 realise 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.
The Media Lab’s faculty includes some of the foremost women in computing and artificial intelligence, including robotics expert Cynthia Breazeal; machine-learning innovator Rosalind Picard; and artificial-intelligence academic and entrepreneur Pattie Maes.
CORRECTION: This story originally named Mozilla and the Knight Foundation as co-hosts of the party. But we heard from Mozilla that the party in question was a second, late-night bash in the basement space that was hosted solely by MIT Media Lab and not the earlier party hosted by all three.