Two student committees created to address outside engagements and campus climate

Committees formed in response to Epstein student forum, sexual misconduct survey

The Undergraduate Association and Graduate Student Council created two new student committees to respond to concerns raised in the Student Forum on MIT & Epstein Oct. 1 and the results of the AAU Sexual Misconduct Survey released Oct. 15. Undergraduate committee members will be chosen after conducting interviews, holding student body elections, and receiving approval by the UA Council.

Mahi Elango ’20, president of the UA, wrote in an email to The Tech that “the committees and the students have full ownership over scope, and therefore any and all ideas relevant to the charge are on the table for discussion.” Both committees will produce a report by Spring 2020.

Elango wrote that the Student Committee on Campus Climate and Policies around Discrimination and Misconduct will “investigate systemic injustices on campus.” 

Meanwhile, the Student Committee on Guidelines for Outside Engagements “will review and discuss MIT core values and the metrics by which outside engagements should be evaluated.”

Elango and Peter Su G, GSC president, will chair the Guidelines Committee and appoint chairs to the Climate Committee.  

Elango wrote that she and Su “have been meeting frequently with Professor Tavneet Suri, Chair of the Ad Hoc Faculty Committee on Guidelines, and other faculty members on the committee and will continue to do so throughout this process.” In addition, Elango and Su will coordinate with the Ad Hoc Faculty Committee on Guidelines and the Ad Hoc Committee to Review MIT Gift Processes.

For selecting committee members, Elango wrote that the UA is “looking for candidates with a strong interest in and ability to think deeply about the issues at hand. This may be manifested through a record of relevant experience on or off campus.” The UA also seeks individuals who “demonstrate a desire to work towards structural change that challenges the status quo.”

Each committee will comprise six undergraduate and six graduate students. Applications to become an undergraduate member of either or both committees are open from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2.

The UA will conduct interviews Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 to select ten candidates, and will soon announce the procedure through which students may vote to select the final six committee members.

The final committee members will be determined primarily by student body vote, but may also be modified by the UA prior to approval by the UA Council to ensure “diversity and the balance of perspectives on the committee,” Elango wrote.

In the executive summary attached to Elango’s email to all undergraduates, Elango wrote that the committees were formed in response to student sentiment during the Student Forum on MIT & Epstein that MIT needs to offer more support to survivors, hold transparent discussions with community stakeholders, and agree upon institute-wide values.

Update 10/31/2019: This article was updated to correct that Elango and Su will only chair the Guidelines Committee, not both committees.