Breakout room feedback, MIT EECS DEI Town Hall June 2021

    • Attendees were happy to see all this info. One said that even though she’s been heavily involved in the commtitee meetings, she got more today than she’d seen before.  For example more of the numbers were explained, and the graphs were explained better.  IDEA: publish some of the slides for general consumption.
    • Information on the gaap program was newand appreciated. 
    • Declaring the DEI search a success rubbed a lot of students the wrong way.  In the previous town hall they said the goal was start date january 2021.  we are months behind that.  it came as a shock that the search was terminated, and not a lot of people were aware of that.   Disappointment that it took 9 rounds of interviews to discover the position should have been elevated. 
    • The hardest task for the DEI PD will be change the hearts and minds of community members who do not believe that DEI is important. Trainings and other mandatory events may not effectively do this. Figuring out how to change perceptions is critical to success.
    • This fall is an opportunity to orient incoming graduate students to the philosophy and activities surrounding DEI in the dept. Especially since even returning graduate students are coming “back” from being “away”, it is a unique opportunity to set the conversation.
    • During the pandemic the work/life balance has improved for some and decreased for others.  As we adjust to going back to in-office work, as a community we will need a significant readjustment period.  This is a DEI issue we should all be aware of, giving flexibility to our colleagues as they rediscover the new normal.
    • Due to the pandemic restrictions, traveling outside of the U.S has been challenging.  This has particularly impacted foreign students who could not travel back to their home country to visit their families.  As the travel restrictions ease, it is important to give these students a chance to reconnect with their loved ones.
    • In the DEI officer hiring, students have been asked to provide input one year ago.  That is a relatively long time ago, given that we have not yet hired the DEI officer.  
    • Program director
      1. Why did it take so long? 
      2. Had DEI consultants or other dept officers been consulted? 
    • Conflict resolution piece is very tricky
      1. Advisors have a lot of power. When to graduate, where to publish, letters of recommendation.
      2. Ensuring a reporting mechanism. Retaliation, even in subtle forms. Seems impossible because of the power structure. 
      3. Check in form was not effective.
        1. Felt it was more like assessment/policing. 
        2. Even when both sides filled it out, didn’t really facilitate a conversation. Just submitted the form. 
    • The data for URM admissions is very shocking how low the percentages are for these students. What can be done about that problem. The task force will be good to dive into the processes and reasons why students do not enroll here.

    – attendees wondered why it took so long to realize that we needed a higher-level position. Fredo said that it was partially his person fault that the search took so long (lowe productivity due to pandemic) and that the need became most apparent when the searches for the (higher level) assistant dean searches were conducted. 

    – the department should help international students especially because some of them may not be able to be in Cambridge at the beginning of September.