Opinion letter to the editor

Director of International Students Office responds to international students op-ed

​​To the editor,

In an op-ed that appeared in The Tech March 3 (“We are international students and we are voting yes on the GSU”), some MIT Graduate Student Union (GSU) students raised concerns that MIT is not doing enough to support international students and asserted that a union can do more. When weighing these claims and considering how to vote in the April 4–5 election, international students should be aware of the following important facts, prepared by MIT’s senior administrators.

If the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) is successful, they will need to negotiate a contract, called a collective bargaining agreement. Such agreements have limits to what they can cover. For example, it is illegal to bargain for contract terms that violate federal immigration law.

MIT has a proven track record of fighting for international students, without any union involvement. During a time when the nation’s leadership was particularly hostile to international students, President Reif wrote the following in a New York Times opinion piece: “As a nation, when we turn our backs on talented foreign students, we not only lose all that they bring to our classrooms and laboratories, we also give up a strategic asset.”

MIT approved virtually every request (either as is, or with some modifications) for remote international appointments during the pandemic.


David C. Elwell
Associate Dean and Director of the International Students Office