Dear Graduate Students,
I am pleased to share the interim report from the Graduate Family Support Working Group. Over the past year, a team of students, staff, and faculty has been focused on better understanding the environment for graduate student parents at MIT and developing potential options for ensuring they are appropriately supported. This charge is part of our Graduate Student Roadmap.
Before outlining the initial set of recommendations, I wanted to update you on some recent actions we have taken on behalf of our graduate students with children:
- Enhancing communications. The MIT Guide for Students with Children websitewas created; a new graduate families email list-serve (firstname.lastname@example.org) was launched as well as a WhatsApp group of new and old families as a mentoring group. In addition, the Division of Student Life and Spouses & Partners Connect offered a summer orientation session just for incoming students with children and Atlas will have a new section for new grads with families for the next admissions cycle.
- Enhancing community (on- and off-campus). A new family liaison for Cambridge Public Schools will provide Associate Dean Naomi Carton updates on school information and open spaces to share with student families. All Westgate events are now open to both on and off-campus families.
The full interim report recommends implementing near-term actions like those above as well as taking a more comprehensive and strategic look at how to bolster our support for student parents (or those expecting). Preliminary recommendations include the following:
- Identify a designated staff person or centralized office focused on communication, outreach and programs to coordinate support efforts for graduate students with children.
- Capture data on graduate students with children administratively and centrally, rather than relying on survey data.
- Identify family friendly space(s) on campus and provide more opportunities for family friendly events, especially for those living off-campus.
- Consider a need-based portable Family Grant to address acute financial needs of the students with children within the broader networks of support for graduate students.
My thanks to all the members of the working group, in particular to chair Lauren Pouchak, Director of Special Projects in OVC, GSC leadership, and our colleagues in DSL.
Finally, the working group encourages your feedback on the report and any other insights you may have: https://tinyurl.com/gradfamilies.
I look forward to keeping you up-to-date on our progress in implementing the working group’s recommendations and on other ways we are striving to create a more inclusive, welcoming environment on campus.
Ian A. Waitz
Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education and Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics