Student leaders call for real recourse NOW!
To guarantee an equitable and respectful workplace, we deserve a fair and empowering union grievance procedure
Dear fellow graduate student workers,
On Friday, February 17, 2023, members of various campus communities at MIT - the Black Graduate Students Association (BGSA), the Latinx Graduate Student Association (LGSA), LGBTQ Grad, the DEI Committee of the Graduate Student Council (GSC DEI), and current student alums of the MIT Summer Research Program - sat across the bargaining table from various MIT administrators and lawyers hired to represent MIT. We shared powerful, emotional, and brutally honest statements presenting our own and fellow students’ experiences facing harassment, discrimination, and bullying at MIT.
To deal with incidents of harassment and discrimination like this, the institute currently presents Institute Harassment and Discrimination Response (IDHR) as the only path for recourse, stating that it is indeed trusted by the grad population. How can this be the case when a survey run by the Association of American Universities reports that 39.4% of grad students reported experiencing harassing behavior, yet less than 1% utilized IDHR?
Speaking to fellow grad workers from our various communities, the reasons WHY they don’t trust IDHR vary - the NDA before a mediated conversation; the inherent bias of MIT having final say on the resolution at the end of the process; the process itself feeling isolating & burdensome to the person in need of a resolution. Further, IDHR only covers cases of protected class, which means it does not cover cases of power-based harassment, more commonly called bullying. As workers who depend on the institute and PIs for employment and livelihood, grad workers are in a position of vulnerability that demands that we be supported by a fair and comprehensive grievance process covered under this contract.
When presented with grad workers’ experiences at the Institute, why grad workers may not trust and/or utilize the IDHR process, and why an alternative may serve us better, MIT admin met us with excuses and invalidation. The MIT administration may try to represent proceedings as collegial and collaborative, or state they value belonging and community. But once again, their words and reality don’t match up.
We are demanding that the MIT admin agrees to a process for harassment, discrimination, and bullying that grad workers can trust will result in real recourse. To guarantee an equitable and respectful workplace, we deserve a fair and empowering union grievance procedure that includes:
The right to file grievances about bullying, identity-based harassment and discrimination, thereby empowering workers to address and seek recourse for these mistreatments;
A clear, fair, process for handling misconduct which prioritizes improving the well-being of the student;
The right to the full support of our union, including a trained, experienced, and legally protected union steward at the grad worker’s side through the entire conflict resolution procedure, so that no one has to navigate these problems alone; and
The right to escalate adjudication to a third-party neutral arbitrator (not an Institute-affiliated group) if cases cannot be resolved through mutual discussion
If you wish to support these demands to build a more fair and welcoming MIT for graduate students, please sign your or your student group’s name in the attached form.
Tunahan Aytas, Co-president, LGBTQ+ Grad
Austin Cole, Political Action Committee Co-Chair, BGSA
Vanessa Hernandez-Cruz, Social Events Chair, LGSA
Mila Lubeck, Treasurer, GSC DEI
Tunahan is a 5th year graduate student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Co-President of LGBTQ+ Grad
Austin is a 2nd year Master’s student in Business and City Planning and Political Action Committee Co-Chair of BGSA
Vanessa is a 1st year Master’s student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Social Events Chair of LGSA
Mila is a 2nd year graduate student in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Studies and Treasurer of GSC DEI