UA shares report regarding UROP student experiences

UA also encourages undergraduates to share their experiences

In an email to the undergraduate community on May 22, the MIT Undergraduate Association (UA) released the “Final Report on the MIT Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.” Paul Irvine ’24, UA Chair of Public Affairs (UAPA), stated that the report, which was written by himself, Lindsay Bolino ’24, Enoch Ellis ’26, Miguel Buitrago ’26, and Haylea Brock ’27, is a compilation of what the UA has learned regarding the student experience with undergraduate research at MIT. 

“While the vast majority of UROP experiences are overwhelmingly positive, we recognize that there are an alarming number of reports of serious offenses that undermine the dignity of our student workers and volunteers,” Irvine wrote.

The report highlights several issues including coercion into logging fewer hours than actually worked, work in toxic or unsafe work environments, disruption of academic priorities, and dissuasion from applying for funding. These issues were derived from dozens of detailed responses in the first week from an anonymous survey that asked students to share details from their UROP experiences.

In response to these issues, the UAPA is considering several reforms to improve the UROP system such as phasing out volunteer UROP positions, setting maximum hours for UROPs, moving up direct funding deadlines, and introducing mandatory training for first-time UROPs. The report also states that they are exploring ways to increase UROP hourly wages and enhance the time-sheet enforcement to “reduce the number of unproductive paid hours.”

“I hope my two years here has showcased the need to fight for respectful treatment of all workers, including young ones, especially as a tool to economically uplift our communities,” Irvine wrote. “We have got to, and will, keep pushing to maintain the dignity of all young workers, one conversation at a time.”

Irvine encouraged undergraduates to continue sharing their experiences with the UROP via the anonymous form that can be found here.