All-MIT Diversity Forum 2016

Held on April 29, 2016, the 2016 All-MIT Diversity Forum offered students, faculty, staff, and alumni the opportunity to learn from each other and discuss complex issues.

How do we as individuals, and as members of the MIT community, make sense of the events of this past year? From the tragic to the historic, issues related to diversity, justice, personal responsibility were front and center – across the country and on our campus.

Keynote Speaker Jelani Cobb

Jelani Cobb writes about the enormous complexity of race in America. In 2015, he received the Sidney Hillman Prize for Opinion & Analysis Journalism for his New Yorker columns, in which he combined “the strengths of an on-the-scene reporter, a public intellectual, a teacher, a vivid writer, a subtle moralist, and an accomplished professional historian.”

Cobb is an associate professor of history at the University of Connecticut, where he is director of the Africana Studies Institute. He is also a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he has penned a remarkable series of articles about race, the police, and injustice. His articles include “The Anger in Ferguson,” “Murders in Charleston,” and “What We Talk About When We Talk About Reparations.”

Introduction and remarks by Lorraine A. Goffe-Rush, Vice President for Human Resources, and L. Rafael Reif, MIT President.

“This year, in many ways, our students have become our teachers,” said MIT President L. Rafael Reif, in his opening remarks at the event.

Morning Session (Kresge Auditorium W16)

8:30 am-9:00 am
9:00 am-9:30 am

Opening Remarks

L. Rafael Reif, MIT President
Lorraine A. Goff e-Rush, VP for Human Resources

9:30 am-9:45 am Break
9:45 am-11:00 am Faculty Panel:

Ed Bertschinger, Introduction
Melissa Nobles, Moderator
Abubakar Abid
Jelani Cobb
Sasha Costanza-Chock
Tanalís Padilla

11:00 am-11:45 am Q&A and Dialogue with Panelists
1:45 am-Noon Break
Noon-1:15 pm

Keynote Speaker

The Half Life of Freedom: Race and Justice
in America Today
Jelani Cobb, Director of Africana Studies,
Associate Professor of History, University
of Connecticut; Staff Writer, The New Yorker

1:15 pm-1:45 pm Lunch

Afternoon Workshops

Mind Bugs: The Ordinary Origins of Bias

Calvin Lai, Director of Research, Harvard University
Project Implicit

Much of how we see, think, and act are shaped by mental activity that occurs outside of conscious awareness or control. We will review examples of how much our mind depends on unconscious processes to navigate the world and see how these same processes are at play in our social behavior. People often develop implicit expectations, beliefs, and attitudes about social groups that they are not aware of processing and do not recognize their influence on judgment. We will also review some practical steps for managing implicit bias.

Dissecting Your Privilege

La-Tarri Canty, Director of Multicultural Programs, Student Activities Office

This foundational workshop seeks to cultivate a better understanding of our multiple identities and explore the intersections of our privilege and oppression. Participants will investigate the importance of context in our lived experiences. We will examine how the western socialization process lends itself to harmful behaviors and beliefs. Lastly, we will discuss how each of us can use our privilege to empower and advance minoritized populations.

Standing Up Instead of Standing By

Libby Mahaffy, Assistant Director for Conflict Management, Office of Student Outreach & Support
Julio Oyola, Assistant Director of LBGTQ Services, Student Activities Office

We’ve all experienced situations we felt weren’t right – a friend making a sexist joke or a supervisor verbally berating a supervisee in public – but we’re not always sure what to do in those situations. Those situations are called “bystander moments,” and participants will learn strategies for standing up instead of standing by in a tough situation. This workshop is the next step for those who participated in the Unconscious Bias or Dissecting Privilege workshops during the first workshop time slot.

Understanding Islam and Muslims

Ali A. Abdalla, ’17, Mechanical Engineering, School of Engineering

The basic goals of this workshop are to dispel the false misconceptions regarding Islam and Muslims, and help non-Muslims in building a more compassionate and understanding relationship with Islam and Muslims. The presentation will include an overview of the Islamic belief, stories of American Muslims, issues regarding the Muslim community, statistics, action items, and a discussion of some of the choices or actions by non-Muslims that have had an impact on the Muslim community.

Town Hall

Update on the AC Working Group on Community and Inclusion: Addressing the Recommendations of the Black Students’ Union and the Black Graduate Student Association
Ed Bertschinger, Institute Community Equity Officer
Kirk Kolenbrander, MIT Vice President

Members of the Academic Council Working Group on Community and Inclusion will lead a conversation on the Working Group’s efforts to address the recommendations of the Black Students’ Union and Black Graduate Student Association that were shared with Academic Council on December 1, 2015. Broad input from the MIT community is helpful as the Working Group continues its consideration of recommendations from a range of MIT groups.

2016 All-MIT Diversity Forum Planning Committee

Sponsor: Lorraine A. Goffe-Rush, Vice President for Human Resources
With support from the Provost’s Office and the Institute Community & Equity Office

Raul Boquin ’17
Leide Cabral, Assistant Director, Alumni Outreach, Alumni Association
La-Tarri Canty, Director of Multicultural Programs, Student Activities Office
Shannan Clarke, Associate Director, Regional Programs East, Alumni Association
Abigail Francis, Director of LBGTQ Services, Student Activities Office
Alyce Johnson, Manager, Staff Diversity and Inclusion, HR
Sophia Liu, ’17, Vice President of the Undergraduate Association
Libby Mahaffy, Assistant Director for Conflict Management, Office of Student Outreach & Support
Alyssa Napier, ’16
Monica Orta, Assistant Director, Diversity and Student Support, Media Lab
Elliott Richman, Manager of Disability Services, HR
Paula Sammarco, Special Assistant to VP for HR, HR
Gayle Sherman, Senior Administrative Assistant, MIT Press
Janet Walzer, Director of Communications, HR