Office of Minority Education launches new program for men of color

The Standard provides cohorts with seminars, mentors, funding

The Office of Minority Education held its inaugural induction ceremony for its new initiative, The Standard, March 2. Funded by the MindHandHeart Innovation Fund, The Standard is a program designed to provide undergraduate men of color at MIT a community for academic, personal, and professional support. This first cohort consists of 22 freshmen.

In an interview with The Tech, Dionetta Jones-Crayton, associate dean for undergraduate education and director of the OME, said that the Standard was the first of its kind at MIT “because it is both cohort-based and community-based,” in contrast to My Sister’s Keeper, a decentralized organization for women of color at MIT.

Members of The Standard will have access to seminars, retreats, mentors, and funding for applications to graduate school, but some of these resources will also be available to all men of color who are students at MIT, who may not have the time to be full-time members of the program.

Jones-Crayton said in a speech at the induction ceremony, “While this cohort and future cohorts will certainly have a core and sacred level of support and community, The Standard will also provide a wide range of programs that will touch men of color outside of the cohort, so this is truly a community endeavor.”

The creation of The Standard was inspired by growing awareness of disturbing national trends concerning the implications for men of color as a result of community policing and the Black Lives Matter movement, according to Jones-Crayton. “The timing is right for MIT to pay attention to it,” she said.

For this first cohort, applications opened in the spring; however, the application cycle will be in the fall for future cohorts, and the OME plans to spread information about the program during Orientation Week and CPW.

Many members of The Standard applied because they had positive experiences with other resources from the OME, such as Interphase, Momentum, and the Talented Scholars Resource Room. One of the inductees, Gabriel Owens-Flores ’21, said in an interview with The Tech, “I don’t think I would have applied if I hadn’t done Momentum.”

A strong sense of community also attracted applicants. “I feel like something I’ve been looking for a lot here is a community that I can really be a part of, and not only get a lot from it but contribute to it,” Joshua Verdejo ’21, another inductee, said in an interview with The Tech.