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Letter regarding MIT's support of its DACA students

The following email was sent yesterday to the MIT community by Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart.

To the members of the MIT community,

In an op-ed published today in The Boston Globe, President Reif writes why the possible repeal of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is at direct odds with our national interests and our American principles. He urges President Trump and Congress to find a legislative solution to prevent young people who have been protected by DACA for more than five years – including the thousands of students studying at institutions of higher education across the United States – from losing "the opportunities they earned, the communities they think of as home, and the nation they love."

I write in the midst of this uncertainty to assure you that MIT is stepping up for our DACA students. Just as we mobilized last January to help members of our community stranded overseas by executive orders restricting certain individuals from entering the United States, we are standing by our DACA students now. Here's what we're doing, and how you can help:

  • In December, I shared that we were in direct, frequent contact with our DACA students. We told them that, no matter what happens to DACA, our commitment to them and to their education will not change. Early next week, I will be meeting with these students again, including new members of the Class of 2021, to reaffirm our steadfast support, and discuss a new free, on-campus immigration attorney resource available to help them.
  • In concert with our partners in higher education and industry, MIT is actively advocating for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform. There are several bipartisan bills that aim to achieve sensible solutions to support our undocumented students. You can learn more about these potential legislative remedies here, and, if you feel inspired to do so, you can call your elected representatives to urge them to vote on a bill as soon as possible.
  • The post-election working group I established last winter will continue its important work in the new academic year. I am grateful that Chair Christopher Capozzola and the other faculty, student, and staff members will be monitoring federal policy and advising us on potential changes that could negatively affect the student experience here at MIT. Last year, they helped organize an informative community briefing on immigration law and policy, and they will be planning another one this fall. I have also asked the group to work with student leaders to think about ways we can, here at MIT, counteract the political polarization gripping our country, and to identify more opportunities and platforms for the respectful, free exchange of all political viewpoints.
  • When I last wrote to you about post-election issues in December, I noted that we had launched a review of our bias reporting procedures to ensure they are easy to access, coordinated, and responsive to community members' needs. After months of community conversations and consultation with our peer institutions, I am pleased to share that our Title IX Office will now be a central location to report all bias incidents involving students and student groups. More information about how Title IX – now called Title IX & Bias Response (T9BR) – can help those who might be subject to a bias incident is here.

Every MIT student deserves the same opportunities to study, to work, to travel—in short, to thrive here. Today and always, we are one MIT.


Cynthia Barnhart

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