BSU/BGSA Recommendations Progress Report

Last Updated June 15th, 2020

BSU and BGSA Recommendation Implementation Status Outstanding Next Steps
Financial Aid
BSU 6: Increase financial aid commitments to at least match peer institutions, reaffirming MIT’s commitment to keeping MIT education accessible and affordable through need-blind admission and a generous need-based financial system. Over the last three years, MIT has increased financial aid expenditures by more than 33% ($32.6 million) from $97.3 million in FY16 to $129.9 million projected for FY19. The Institute has also reduced student self-help levels from $6,000 to $3,400 a year. MIT is one of only five U.S. colleges and universities that currently admit all undergraduate students without regard to their financial circumstances, award all financial aid based on need, and meet the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students.

MIT continues to be unique in allowing low-income students to use Pell Grants to reduce or eliminate their self-help and summer savings expectations, and it guarantees that any family earning $90,000 or less will have scholarships that at least cover tuition. This guarantee serves more than one-third of MIT’s students.

For FY20, MIT is again increasing aid at a higher rate than tuition and other costs, adding a “first-year grant” of $2,000 for incoming students from families with income $65,000 and below. The FY20 financial aid budget is $136.3 million, a 4.9% increase, more than offsetting a 3.75% increase in tuition. Because MIT is committed to offering its students a world-class education, the cost to educate students is rising faster than our families' ability to pay; we meet that financial need fully with increased scholarship support.
BSU 3: Diversity orientation for incoming students must include the following: a) Incoming student focus groups of no more than 30 people facilitated by conversation leader; b) Incoming student focus groups held in spaces designated for diversity and inclusion of URMs. Incoming first year undergraduate students have participated since 2016 in facilitated small group focused dialogues on diversity and inclusion.  
BGSA 4: Offer a special, university-wide orientation session for incoming graduate students of under-represented minority racial and ethnic backgrounds.

[One element of creating an inclusive environment for under-represented minority (URM) graduate students lies in welcoming them to the Institute in a way that respectfully and informatively acknowledges the ways in which their experiences at MIT may differ from the experiences of others, and which introduces them to the support resources available to them. We recommend that the Institute host a session during orientation, before the start of classes, during which URM graduate students are introduced to senior academic leaders at MIT, key personnel in the Office of the Dean of Graduate Education, and representatives from other offices that provide relevant student services. This session could also aid incoming URM graduate students in forming a supportive, informal social network by allowing them to connect with other URM graduate students or graduate student organizations.]
The Graduate Students of Color Welcome event has been institutionalized as an Orientation event.

The Office of Graduate Education Diversity Initiatives will continue to work with the Graduate Students of Color Advisory Council and the GSC Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee to make enhancements as needed.

The task force will coordinate with the Graduate Student Council Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee to coordinate in-person, follow-up discussion during IAP 2020 or early spring 2020 semester
BSU 4:  Online diversity training to be completed after an undergraduate student’s second year, possibly employing of techniques the “Student Success Sexual Assault Training” to obtain 100% student compliance. Representatives from DSL, OVC, OGE, and ISO worked together to implement Everfi’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion online module for groups listed below during the summer and fall of 2019:

Rising sophomores have access to the module as of September, 2019. It is required of all sophomores.

The course will be available to Undergraduate Advisors (faculty and staff) as of December 2019.
BGSA 3:  Require diversity training for incoming graduate students. 

[Bringing together students from disparate backgrounds and circumstances in a cooperative and respectful way within a single institution is a formidable challenge. One key to reducing sources of inter-cultural friction and division is to educate students that diversity and inclusion are core MIT values and that they have responsibilities to comply with those values. Guidance on how they can develop affirmative skills for competently navigating multicultural social spaces can provide students with a real marketable asset. Therefore, to reinforce the importance of diversity and inclusion as core values for new graduate members of the MIT community, we recommend that they be required, as a condition of enrollment, to complete an in-person diversity awareness training module. Admitted students might complete this requirement during the period of graduate orientation, or during the first month of the Fall semester. As an alternate option, the Institute could also offer graduate students the opportunity to take during the prior summer an online module, perhaps in the form of an MITx course, which would be more in-depth, but would also confer a credential on successful completion.]
Representatives from DSL, OVC, OGE, and ISO worked together to implement Everfi’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion online module during the summer and fall of 2019:

Incoming Graduate Students were required to complete the module between July and October of 2019

The task force will coordinate with the Graduate Student Council Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee to coordinate in-person, follow-up discussion during IAP 2020 or early Spring 2020 semester.
BGSA 6:  Require implicit bias training for research laboratory personnel – including faculty, staff, and students.

[MIT’s research laboratories are vital training grounds for graduate students to learn important disciplinary subject matter and research skills. One’s ability to thrive within a given lab environment often depends on one’s ability to form relationships of trust and respect within the lab, and particularly with senior lab personnel. URM graduate students may encounter greater difficulty in forming such relationships due to the effects of implicit bias. Therefore, to help ensure that each laboratory environment is inclusive, we recommend that all lab personnel be required to complete an implicit bias training once every three years, similar to the validity period for successful human subjects research training. We note that leading innovation-driven corporations, like Google, have recently introduced mandatory implicit bias training workshops to improve the management, operation, and creativity of its project teams.]
Implicit bias training was launched in 2017 in several areas of the Institute, including the ICEO office, the Teaching and Learning Lab, Human Resources, Academic Council, and some academic departments.

Between 2017 through March 2019, a total of 638 MIT graduate students, postdocs, faculty and staff have participated in a TLL-facilitated implicit bias & active bystander workshop.

Through the HR Learning Management System, between 2017 through March 2019, approximately 300 staff have participated in the Open Enrollment and customized implicit bias & active bystander workshops.

Planned fall, 2019 for MIT faculty, instructors and teaching assistants seeking to promote equity and academic belonging through their classroom teaching practices.
Build into the DEI strategic plan
Continued targeted delivery for different audiences offering a variety of delivery methods to
Graduate Admissions
All members of the graduate committees
Committees that focus on promotion and tenure
Faculty search committees
School Council (apt sub groups??)
Create a consistent framework and toolkit
Enhance the cadre of implicit bias facilitators
Long term:
Inventory student facing and decision making roles
Mental Health and Counseling
BSU 1:  A full-time equivalent be hired with a specialization on psychological issues affecting the African Diaspora in MIT Medical’s Health and Counseling Office.

BGSA 5:  Enhance services to assist students coping with race-based traumatic stress.

[There is a growing recognition in the field of psychology of a phenomenon called “race-based traumatic stress.” Race-based traumatic stress is thought to be an emotional condition experienced by victims of racial and ethnic bias. In such cases, the victim bears measurable evidence of abnormal traumatic stress levels and experiences a cluster of negative psychological reactions in response to an experience of perceived racial bias or discrimination. URM students may arrive at MIT already experiencing race-based traumatic stress due to their prior life experiences. While at MIT, URM students may have direct experiences that could trigger traumatic stress. In addition, race-based traumatic stress can be triggered vicariously through highly-publicized events that feature allegations of racial bias. We recommend that the Institute take steps to expand the capacity of MIT Medical’s Counseling and Mental Health Services division to assist URM students who may be experiencing race-based traumatic stress. This could include adding personnel trained specially to provide counseling for students coping with mental conditions related to experiences of racial bias. We also recommend that Office of the Dean of Graduate Education identify race-based traumatic stress as a legitimate basis for writing “excuse notes” on behalf of graduate students seeking special academic accommodations, when those students are confirmed by an authorized professional to be showing symptoms of race-based traumatic stress. Additionally, we recommend that senior leaders at the Institute conduct a listening tour to begin a process of documenting and understanding current students’ encounters with racial bias at MIT, and of raising community-wide awareness of such bias.]
Dr. Karen Singleton, who specializes in multicultural psychology and trauma, was appointed Chief of Mental Health and Counseling and Associate Medical Director at MIT Medical.

Three clinicians with expertise in race-based trauma were appointed, a psychiatrist, Dr. Cecil Webster, Jr., and two clinical social workers, Leslie Langston, and Erik Marks.

Staff members participated in a day long anti-oppression training led by Dr. Ken Hardy in March 2017.

A Multicultural Competency counseling team is being formed led by Dr.’s Singleton & Webster.

An Imposter Phenomenon talk was given by Mental Health & Counseling to Interphase students this past summer. Afterwards, and in responding to numerous students of color reaching out for further support; the Imposter Phenomenon workshop series was developed and began this fall. It is a workshop series that is advertised through OME and other offices to minority students. Dr. Maryam Khodadoust has been leading these workshops. 

After a successful pilot, Mental Health & Counseling partnered with OME to offer 'Let’s Chat @ OME' on Tuesday evenings.
BSU 5:  Publicly release breakdown of data by identity groups (e.g. race, gender, sexuality) on the reasons why undergraduate students of color turn down offers of admission to MIT while still respecting students’ privacy.

BSU 7:  Targeted survey questions be added to MIT Quality of Life and Undergraduate Enrolled Student Survey (ESS) on feelings of diversity, inclusion at MIT such as: a) “Do you feel at home where you live?  Do you feel included?”; b) “Do you feel your major is a diverse place?  Your place of residence?”; c) “Do you feel comfortable expressing your opinions to your peers in your home? In your classrooms? With your professors?”

BSU 8:  Targeted survey questions in the previous recommendation be coupled with publicly released breakdown of data by identity groups (e.g., race, gender, sexuality, place of residence, majors) while still respecting students’ privacy.

BSU 9:  Statistics be released and updated yearly on the following beginning Fall 2016: a) Major retention rate and flow (how many students switched to and from each different department); b) A report on “Number of Underrepresented Minority Students by Course and Year” in the Degree and Enrollment Statistics by the MIT Office of the Registrar, mirroring the Registrar’s “Number of Women by Course and Year” report.
BGSA 2:  Introduce greater accountability for departmental performance related to the matriculation and graduation of URM graduate students.

[In addition to concerns about the relatively low level of matriculation at MIT by URM graduate students, there are related concerns about the graduation rates of URM graduate students once enrolled. While many in the Institute are working to address these issues – including faculty, staff, and students– they are stymied by the lack of access to department-level information on URM graduate student applications, matriculation, and graduation. Moreover, MIT’s decentralized graduate admissions system means that academic departments have almost total responsibility for the outcomes of their graduate admissions processes. Greater transparency and accountability for MIT’s academic departments could make an important contribution to improving URM graduate student matriculation and graduation. We recommend that the Institute introduce a centralized process of data collection from MIT’s academic departments for information about URM graduate student matriculation and graduation. This step will allow the Institute’s senior academic leaders, as well as other members of the community, to identify where problems lie, and to constructively engage with departments about possible solutions.]
None of this data is publicly released, even in the aggregate.  However, BSU and MIT Admissions leadership have met to review the data to allow students and admissions officers to understand which initiatives are needed to increase URM acceptance rates.  Plans are in place to expand this discussion with student leadership to include improving CPW events/experience for URM students. Efforts continue to develop a data release strategy that provides data to interested constituencies while protecting student privacy.

The Registrar is now publishing a report on “Number of Underrepresented Minority Students by Course and Year” on the Registrar’s Office Enrollment page, available to all in the MIT community with an MIT Certificate.

BSU 7 has been fully implemented in the 2016 Senior Survey and the 2017 Student Quality of Life Survey.  Plans are in place for implementation in subsequent Senior Surveys.

BSU 8 has been partially implemented.  Breakdown of data by student level, race, gender, and residence has been made public, except when the cell size is less than 10. Breakdown of data by gender identity and sexual orientation has not been implemented.

The Registrar is now publishing a report on “Number of Underrepresented Minority Students by Course and Year” on the Registrar’s Office Enrollment page, available to all in the MIT community with an MIT Certificate.

MIT has not yet established a practice for publicly sharing the major retention rate and flow information.  It has, however, been shared with a number of department heads, who are using it to enhance the student experience within the department.
Build into the DEI strategic plan, 2020

Need help from the Deans to bring to the attention of department heads and others
Graduate student chairs
Share best practices from OGE

Need to address:
Responsibility for creating a systemic approach for training departments on how to best interpret data, assist with integration of any new modifications and set realistic goals
Suggested modification to ACWG’s proposed owners:

Proposed Owners:  OVC [Ian] + OGE [Blanche] + Associate Provost [Tim] + School Deans’ Group

Possible Partners:  Department Support Project (DSP) + Department Chairs + Graduate Officers + Graduate Admissions Chairs

Next Steps: During the summer, OVC + OGE will ask the Provost and the Faculty Officers to establish a committee on graduate admissions.  In Fall 2020, OVC + OGE will convene graduate officers and graduate admissions chairs to discuss the committee’s mission, determine shared goals, how we can best work together, and the infrastructure needed to support the committee (staffing, meeting schedule, etc.). 

Important Note: The Committee on Graduate Admissions (or Graduate Admissions Team) last met in 2015.  The original charge of the CGA  is to “be a standing committee to assess, integrate, and coordinate graduate admission platforms, processes, and procedures at MIT. The organization will review and act upon annual survey data for graduate administrators and officers and will communicate data results and plans to graduate administrators and officers.”
Recruitment and Retention
BGSA 1 – Part1:  Develop and implement a ten-year plan to increase the number of under-represented minority graduate students, in particular Black graduate students.

[MIT’s dedication to diversity is evident in the MIT community, which contains representatives from all 50 States of America and the District of Columbia, three territories, and 116 countries.1 Although it is very ethnically diverse, the Institute still has a lot of to work do to create racially diverse MIT community. Measures taken by the Institute have lead to a rise in the number of under-represented minority students (URM) in the undergraduate population. With the decentralized nature of the graduate department admissions, such upward trends were not reflected in the graduate admissions. The Institute’s commitment to increasing the number of URM faculty and graduate student2 was accompanied by a marginal rise in the graduate student URM population from 7% in 2004 to 12% in 2012.3 Upon further analysis, this percentage increase can be attributed to increasing numbers of graduate students identifying as Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific islanders. The number of the Black graduate students has remained fix at about 3.5%. Therefore, to increase the number of URM students, in particular the number of Black students at MIT, we recommend the Institute develop and implement a new action plan with measurable goals continuing the Institute’s focus on increasing admission and enrollment of URM graduate students, particularly those of Black students, through targeted recruitment for the next 10 years. Increasing the number of URM graduate students is an important catalyst for creating a culture at MIT that lives up to its values of diversity and inclusion.]
OGE has addressed these BGSA recommendations on multiple fronts.  Staff have implemented a Graduate Diversity Ambassador program, increasing MIT’s presence at recruitment conferences across the country and providing personalized advice on MIT graduate applications to alumni of the MIT Summer Research Program and CONVERGE.

With input from the Office of the General Counsel, OGE implemented an expanded fee waiver policy during the 2016 application cycle to remove potential financial barriers for applicants who many not have considered MIT.

OGE is also renewing its commitment to the University Center for Exemplary Mentoring, which provides professional development activities to prepare doctoral students from underrepresented minorities for careers in academia.  The OGE’s “Ignite Your Vision,” a monthly discussion series facilitated primarily by MIT faculty and alumni of color, touches upon general professional-development topics and provides an opportunity for graduate students to learn from the experiences of representatives from diverse career paths in industry, education, health care, and government.

The Office of Graduate Education Diversity Initiatives has an internal recruitment action plan for institute-wide recruitment.  This action plans is informed by the data provided by IR.  It is important to note that  numbers stated in the recommendation refer to the % of URM graduate students among the domestic population only; the % of URM graduate students decreases significantly when compared to the total graduate population (domestic + international).  In other words, URM graduate students account for 5% in 2004 to 8% in 2012 of the total graduate population. Per IR, “over the past decade, URM applications have gone up ~180% from 560 in 2007 to 1,569 in 2017.”  However, the URM admit % rate has done down ~7% from  29% (n=164) in 2007 to 20% (n=320) in 2017.
Build into DEI strategic plan
Share best practices and resources from OGE

Educate graduate admissions committees
Stake in the ground by ‘expressing a desire at the department level’  e.g. AeroAstro translates to aspirational goals
Follow up on 2004 faculty statement of increasing the number of URM Grad students
The Provost + School Deans Group  take the lead and work with department heads
Proposed Owners: Provost + School Deans’ Group + Department Chairs + Associate Provost [Tim]

Possible Partners:  Department Support Project (DSP) + Graduate Admissions Chairs + + OVC [Ian] + OGE [Blanche]
Professional Development
BGSA 7:  Provide tailored resources to help URM graduate students to compete successfully on academic and professional job markets.

[Students of color encounter unique obstacles on the academic and professional job markets due to the effects of implicit and explicit bias. Well-meaning but generic career development advice sessions often do not touch on how to overcome these obstacles. We recommend the hiring of a career development officer specializing in counseling academic and professional job-seekers of color. Such an officer could provide dedicated assistance to URM graduate students in developing job search plans and interview strategies specific to their needs. They could also add an important layer of knowledge about the effects of bias on corporate human resources decision-making to the career development community-of-practice at MIT, and help to organize targeted recruitment events.]
In recent months, OGE has hired new team members to serve MIT’s graduate student community.  Assistant Dean Suraiya Baluch joined the Graduate Personal Support office, and is helping to expand the support network for graduate students.  Two diversity staff positions have been filled in order to focus on maintaining MIT’s diversity recruitment efforts and provide bandwidth for the office to revamp its involvement in professional development.  OGE plans to continue its collaboration with several academic departments and administrative offices at MIT, including Global Education and Career Development, to devise a targeted approach to address BGSA 7.

Over the past academic year, CAPD and OGE have continued working together to address BGSA #7.
In Fall 2019, the CAPD revised the Diversity Resources webpage to make it more accessible and relevant to current undergrad and grad students. In addition to links to identity-based resources, the new sections include tips on advancing access and opportunity, building connections during and after MIT, mentorship, alumni connections, and identity-based professional conferences. 

We also engaged the MIT community (alumni, graduate students, and staff) in conversations to develop a formal mentoring initiative connecting alumni of color and graduate students of color. Unlike the Advisor’s Hub that provides an informal opportunity to engage in career conversations, resume critique, and mock interviews, the mentoring initiative will be a structured program that addresses four areas of the MIT student professional development competencies: career advancement, interpersonal skills, leadership and mentoring, and personal development.

The overall goal is to enhance alumni and students’ skills as culturally competent leaders. The mentoring initiative will launch as a pilot in Fall 2020. 

Next Steps:  Our goal is to continue to deliver sustainable programs that will have a long-lasting and positive impact on the experience of our alumni and graduate students. 

Proposed Owners: OVC [Ian] + CAPD [Deborah] + OGE [Blanche]
Possible Partners: OGE/UCEM [Leslie]
Department-Level Activity
BSU 2: The current mandatory HASS-Elective (Graduation Requirement) be restricted to a newly designated “Immersion studies” HASS-Elective. BSU 2 has not been pursued.  Strong concerns about this proposed restriction to the HASS-Elective were shared with BSU leadership by MIT faculty and administration. These concerns were heard and accepted. Curricular experiences on diversity and inclusion within the student’s major are an important area for new curriculum development.  
BSU 10: A formal statement from the leader of each MIT Department, Lab, Center on behalf of one’s department or group affirming MIT’s commitment to students’ health, diversity, and inclusion with remarks including but not limited to:

1) “We care about the mental and physical health of our students before the quality of their work”;

2) “We value diversity in and inclusion of our students, faculty, and staff with regard to their backgrounds and opinions”;

3) “We are still committed to MIT’s 2004 goal of doubling the percentage of URM faculty and tripling the percentage of URM graduate students within ten years”; and

4) For departments only, “We pledge to create and to implement an action plan to meet and exceed MIT’s 2004 goal of doubling the URM faculty and tripling the percentage of URM graduate students within ten years.
 This proposed action plan and its progress will be reviewed periodically together with an Institute Visiting Committee.”
Every academic unit has posted a department statement in response to BSU 10.
The full ensemble of statements is viewable online at
Other major units at MIT – including the Libraries, DSL, Office of the Vice Chancellor (planned), and Resource Development / MIT Alumni Association – have posted formal statements.  
Part of the expected departmental and School action plans, due in 2020 will include efforts to ‘realize’ the departmental statements
BSU 11: Creation of a Diversity Representative within each Department:

1) These representatives must have experience with and educational background specifically in diversity and URM recruitment and retention in higher education;

2) These representatives must be tasked with leading the improvement of diversity and inclusion within the department;

3) These representatives must work within each department to create and to implement an action plan to double the percentage of URM faculty and triple the percentage of URM graduate students within ten years, as per the unanimous 2004 resolution of the MIT faculty;

4) These representatives must employ the tactics outlined in the 2010 Report of the Initiative for Faculty Race and Diversity by Professor Paula Hammond, the former chair of MIT’s Initiative on Faculty Race and Diversity;

5) These representatives must work with respective Department Heads, ICEO, and the Human Resources Department to implement equity recommendations.

BGSA 1 – Part2:  Develop and implement a ten-year plan to increase the number of under-represented minority graduate students, in particular Black graduate students.

[Academic departments are at the front-lines of the implementation of academic policies related to graduate student education. The success of any academic policy initiative related to graduate students, such as enhancing diversity and inclusion, depends on effective departmental implementation. To address some of the challenges associated with implementation of centralized policies on increasing diversity and inclusion in a decentralized graduate student admissions system, we propose:

Each department be required to submit to the Institute Community and Equity Office a five-year plan for increasing URM graduate student enrollment and retention.

The appointment of a Diversity Representative in each department whose task is to carry out the targeted recruitment of competitive URM students as outlined in the new action plan. (See BSU-PAC Recommendations, Section 11)

Each departmental admission committee should contain at least one minority representative to help identify and advocate for competitive minority applicants.
Recognizing that MIT departments vary widely in terms of size, internal organization, and recruitment and retention practices, no uniform structure for all departments has been identified.

The department processes that accompanied the development of responses to BSU 10 have led some departments to identify an individual officer (e.g. the Equal Opportunity Officer in Political Science) or structure (the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion in EECS) to advance diversity and inclusion.

The ICEO has posted and continues to develop a list of officers and structures.  The list is available at 

The BSU 10 process has also contributed to broader inclusion efforts within departments, including the MindHandHeart Department Support Project that is supporting departments in their efforts to improve climate
As of 2/20, the decision was made to hire senior DEI professionals in each School.

The Sloan School of Management has announced 2 hires following their own internal review.

During the next admissions cycle, OVC and OGE will revamp the diversity fellowship process and allocation to departments to increase transparency and accountability.  The departments will be asked to submit information on their department’s recruitment, mentoring, and financial plans for each fellow and broader URM graduate student community.   

Is DSP working on gathering graduate recruitment and retention plans from departments?

Click this link to download the PDF of the full recommendations and progress report.