UA-led BLM fundraiser matches over $25,000 in donations to five organizations

Fundraiser surpassed original goal to raise $10,000 by Juneteenth

The Undergraduate Association (UA) led a campus-wide Black Lives Matter fundraiser in June, matching $25,000 in donations to five organizations that fight systemic racism against the Black community. The Graduate Student Council (GSC), Black Students’ Union (BSU), Dormitory Council, Interfraternity Council (IFC), Panhellenic Association (Panhel), and Class Councils also participated in the fundraiser.

The five organizations — Equal Justice Initiative, National Urban League, Massachusetts Bail Fund, Okra Project, and Loveland Foundation — were chosen because they “tackled a wide set of issues affecting the Black community, related not only to criminal justice and police brutality but also mental health, economic inequality, and LGBTQ+ issues,” UA President Danielle Geathers ’22 wrote in an email to The Tech.

The fundraiser was launched June 15 and reached its full $25,000 goal by June 19, surpassing its original goal to raise $10,000 by Juneteenth. As of press time, the UA has received receipts from 138 donations, totaling $27,000, from students, alumni, staff, and faculty. The fundraiser’s organizing groups also pledged donations, Geathers wrote.

Geathers wrote that the UA chose to collaborate with other MIT student organizations because “advocacy efforts are most powerful when organized in conjunction with other students,” and the fundraiser benefited from “valuable solidarity as a united front with fellow student organizations.” 

According to the UA’s website, the fundraiser matched donations to any organizations supporting BLM. The fundraiser matched twice the donation for donors who either wrote a letter to a government official or signed three petitions supporting BLM, and three times the donation for donors who did both. The UA also donated $10 for each fundraiser participant who could not donate but wrote a letter to a government official and signed three petitions. Receipts of donations and activities were sent through a Google form. 

Of individual donors, over 80% were undergraduate and graduate students, according to the UA’s website

GSC President Madeleine Sutherland G wrote in an email to The Tech that the GSC “felt the need to do our part actively combat racism both within our community and in society at large.” Though there are many ways to contribute, “funding racial justice organizations helps further their vital work, and is an exercise in ‘put your money where your mouth is.’”

Sutherland wrote that the GSC learned through the fundraiser that “MIT graduate students have a strong desire to take actions that benefit the community outside as well as within MIT.” 

Sutherland added that she hopes the “flexible design of the fundraiser” helped “introduce students to organizations doing good work, opening the door to future advocacy.” The goal of the fundraiser, in addition to other activities organized by the GSC Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, was to “spark conversations about ways to make MIT more equitable and welcoming to all.”

IFC president Nico Salinas ’21 wrote in an email to The Tech that simply donating to organizations doesn’t solve racial injustice. Fraternities “need to continue to educate ourselves and our members about the Black Lives Matter movement and what it means to our community,” Salinas added. 

Salinas wrote that he is leading chapter presidents to have “difficult conversations with members” and recognize the privileges fraternity members have so they can “do good with them and improve our communities and support the Black community for the better.”  

Salinas wrote that the IFC pledged to donate $5,000 to organizations supporting BLM before the UA fundraiser. Similarly, the Panhel Executive Council pledged to donate up to $6,000 in a three-day “Act-a-thon” June 13–15, according to the UA’s website.

Several other student groups, including individual halls and living groups, also pledged to match donations to organizations supporting BLM, according to the website. 

The UA released a consensus decision June 11 urging MIT to support the BLM fundraiser, replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day on Institute calendars, hire diversity, equity, and inclusion staff, hire a “racial trauma specialist” in MIT Medical's Student Mental Health and Counseling Services, publish admissions data “with a quantitative intersectional and distinctive approach regarding race and gender,” and “establish a memorial exploring MIT’s racial history on campus.”

The UA also published a BLM fundraiser resource guide that contains information about organizations to donate to, petitions to sign, contacting government officials, and voter registration.

The 2020 BSU/Black Graduate Student Association petition to “Support Black Lives at MIT” has been signed by over 4,800 individuals and 148 MIT-affiliated organizations.

President L. Rafael Reif announced July 1 that MIT will develop and implement an Institute-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion plan.

Community members can offer feedback on the UA’s BLM response through a Google form.