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BSU/BGSA progress

Actions spurred by the 2015 recommendations of the Black Students’ Union and Black Graduate Student Association continue to pave the way for meaningful and lasting change across the MIT community.

Undergraduate orientation

Completed

Hold diversity orientation for incoming undergraduate students in small group settings and in spaces designated for students from underrepresented groups.

Current status

Since 2016, incoming first-year undergraduate students have participated in facilitated, small-group dialogues on diversity and inclusion. 

Graduate student orientation

Completed

Offer a special, university-wide orientation session for incoming graduate students of underrepresented racial/ethnic background.

Current status

The annual Graduate Students of Color Welcome has been institutionalized as an orientation event. The event brings together MIT officers, faculty, staff and students to welcome incoming graduate students of color. It presents an opportunity to discuss issues facing students from underrepresented groups and detail campus resources and student organizations focused on graduate student diversity and inclusion.

Undergraduate training

Completed

Require diversity training for undergraduates after their second year.

Current status

MIT introduced a DEI course module in 2018 with a focus on terminology and MIT-specific resources. Students are required to take the course upon entering MIT.

Graduate student training

Completed

Require diversity training for incoming graduate students.

Current status

MIT implemented required diversity training for incoming graduate students in 2019, and the requirement continues.

MIT Medical hire

Completed

Hire a full-time equivalent with specialization/experience with psychological issues affecting the African Diaspora in MIT Medical’s Health and Counseling Office.

Current status

In late 2016, MIT Medical named Dr. Karen Singleton chief of service/associate medical director. Though not a full-time clinician at MIT Medical, Dr. Singleton is an expert in multicultural counseling and trauma, and leads Student Mental Health and Counseling Services’ (SMHC) key initiatives, including staff multicultural competency training and the recruitment, retention and promotion of racially diverse staff.

In 2020, MIT Medical hired a director of diversity, equity and inclusion, who works closely with Dr. Singleton to advance these efforts. SMHC has also appointed clinicians with experience in race-based trauma and multicultural outreach. One of the appointed clinicians serves as the Coordinator of the Let's Chat program and liaison to the Let's Chat @ OME initiative.

Support for students

Completed

Expand the capacity of MIT Medical’s Counseling and Mental Health Services division to assist underrepresented students who may be experiencing race-based traumatic stress.

Current status

After successful pilots, Student Mental Health and Counseling (SMHC) partnered with the Office of Minority Education to launch Let’s Chat @ OME, and with the Office of Graduate Education (OGE) to offer the Mental Health Matters program. OGE also recently hired Gaurav Jashnani—who has significant training and expertise in trauma and mental health counseling, and experience in social justice and DEI-related work—as assistant dean for student support and advising. And OGE has identified race-based traumatic stress as a legitimate basis for special academic accommodation when a student is confirmed by an authorized professional to show symptoms of such stress.
 
Also, MIT Medical has appointed clinicians in SMHC with experience in race-based trauma and multicultural outreach, and appointed additional clinicians of color. SMHC continues to deepen staff training through clinician ally groups, anti-oppression training and a range of group offerings for students of color.

Department statements

Completed

Require every department, lab and center to post a formal statement affirming MIT's commitment to students' health, diversity and inclusion.

Targeted survey questions

Completed

Add targeted survey questions to the Quality of Life and Undergraduate Enrolled Student surveys on feelings of diversity/inclusion at MIT.

Current status

MIT incorporated questions on diversity/inclusion at MIT into the 2016 Senior Survey and 2017 Quality of Life Survey, and continues to ask those questions in the surveys.

Survey results

Completed

Release results of survey questions about diversity/inclusion broken down by identity groups.

Current status

Breakdowns of responses by categories such as student level, gender, racial or ethnic underrepresentation, sexual orientation, disability status, veteran status and student housing type are often available, dependent on the topic of the survey and what demographic questions were included. In all cases, breakouts are only provided when the confidentiality of individual respondents can be assured.

Undergraduate financial aid

Ongoing

Increase financial aid to compete with peer institutions, reaffirming MIT's commitment to keeping MIT education accessible and affordable through need-blind admission and a generous need-based financial aid program.

Current status

In AY23, MIT's commitment to undergraduate financial aid will grow to $161.8 million. When measured in real dollars, the average cost of an MIT education for those who receive financial aid has been reduced by 26% over the past two decades. In 2021, 82% of MIT seniors graduated with no debt; of those who assumed debt to finance their education, the median indebtedness at graduation was $15,721.
 
MIT is one of only six American universities that is need blind and full need, which means no student will be disadvantaged in the admissions process because of financial need. The Institute remains deeply committed to increasing support for undergraduate financial aid.

Accountability for matriculation/graduation

Ongoing

Introduce greater accountability for departmental performance re: matriculation/graduation of underrepresented graduate students.

Current status

Institutional Research (IR) developed an interactive Diversity Dashboard, which allows a user to view and sort demographic data using multiple variables. IR also generates custom reports for department leadership and visiting committees that present analysis of various aspects of department climate and context in the form of demographic comparisons. Staff in the Department Support Program work with leadership to identify areas for improvement and develop action plans, with biennial surveys providing status reports. The strategic action plan for diversity, equity and inclusion will further address this recommendation.

Resources for academic/professional job searches

Ongoing

Provide tailored resources to help underrepresented graduate students compete successfully on academic and professional job markets.

Current status

The Office of Graduate Education has increased the number of staff focused on MIT's diversity recruitment efforts, creating bandwidth for the office to enhance its efforts in professional development. In October 2021, MIT Career Advising and Professional Development launched the Mentoring Circle Initiative for Graduate Students of Color to connect students with alumni who can provide culturally relevant perspectives on pathways to academic and industry careers.

Underrepresented graduate student enrollment

Progress underway

Develop and implement a ten-year plan to increase the number of under-represented minority graduate students, in particular Black graduate students.

Current status

MIT's strategic action plan for diversity, equity and inclusion will address this recommendation. For now, the Office of Graduate Education (OGE) has an internal action plan for Institute-wide recruitment. A few highlights:

  • OGE has revamped its diversity fellowships, now called The Vice Chancellor's Inclusive Excellence Fellowships, and requires departments to submit information about recruitment, mentoring and financial plans for each fellow and the broader underrepresented graduate student community.
  • In summer 2021, OGE and the School of Engineering piloted a major expansion of the MIT Summer Research Program, which contributes significantly to the pipeline of underrepresented undergraduates to MIT.
  • MIT enhanced its fee waiver policy to remove potential financial barriers in applying to MIT’s graduate programs.
  • OGE continues to recruit and train diversity ambassadors—current MIT graduate students—to engage prospective students from underrepresented groups and offer assistance in the application process.
  • OGE and other offices provide support for the Graduate Application Assistance Programs (GAAP), run by volunteer graduate students and recent alumni dedicated to increasing diversity in their programs. In 2020-21, GAAP mentors reached out to as many as 1,000 MIT applicants from underrepresented backgrounds.

Training for lab personnel

Progress made

Require implicit bias training for research lab personnel—faculty, staff and students. Require retraining every three years.

Current status

MIT offers on-demand, customized training that accounts for implicit bias in the context of a broader workshop or strategy. Through GlobeSmart (available on Atlas), MIT also offers training to help recognize the differences in culture that may result in biased behavior in the lab. The training is not required.

Diversity representatives

Progress made

Create a diversity representative in each department.

Current status

MIT’s five schools and the college have hired assistant deans for DEI, who have a dotted-line reporting relationship to the ICEO. The schools of Engineering, Sloan and Science have also appointed faculty to serve as associate deans focused on issues of DEI. And many academic departments have hired diversity officers. The ICEO is working with all new DEI staff and leadership to develop this cohort and promote Institute-wide collaboration in academic and administrative units.

Retention/enrollment data

Progress made

Release annual data re: course retention rate and flow and re: underrepresented student enrollment by course/year.

Current status

The registrar now publishes reports of underrepresented student enrollment by course and year, available to anyone with an MIT certificate. MIT does not publish major retention rate and flow, but shares the data with department heads.

“Immersion studies” HASS-Elective

Not pursued

Restrict the mandatory HASS-Elective to a newly designated "Immersion studies" HASS-Elective.

Current status

Faculty and administrators shared their concerns about this recommendation with the BSU leaders and engaged them in a discussion. MIT is committed to identifying and developing curricular experiences on diversity and inclusion within each major, but does not plan to require students to take classes in immersion studies.

Key
Completed MIT has fulfilled the commitment or recommendation.
Ongoing MIT has made progress and will continue to advance this enduring commitment.
Progress underway Elements have been advanced or completed, and work continues.
Progress made Elements have been advanced, but there are no current plans to fully complete the item as presented.
Not pursued After discussion and review, MIT will not advance the item as presented.