MIT Introduces Program to Help Students Find a New Counselor

T.The relationship between graduate students and their advisors can be critical to trainee success, but there can be many reasons why a pairing doesn’t work. Starting today (March 9th), MIT has introduced new guidelines that make it easier for students to exchange advisors without affecting their graduation prospects. The terms of the program were developed on the recommendation of several stakeholder groups for graduate students in order to protect the students from retaliation and financial difficulties that can arise if an advisor-advisor relationship goes bad.

The Rejection of Injustice Through Student Empowerment (RISE) aims to provide doctoral students with a safety net to get out of a lab that is not good for them by helping students get transition funding, limit transition time between counselors, and safeguards for the advancement of degrees and protect the student from failing to receive letters of recommendation.

If the relationship between a graduate student and his or her advisor is broken, the student may find himself in a precarious position and require funding and guidance to graduate. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that because of these barriers, students exposed to highly abusive behavior from their advisor, such as racism or sexual harassment, have no safe way to get out of a harmful environment without sacrificing much time, money, or even repeating previously completed ones Aspects of their degree. The timeline It also states that some counselors can get vicious and take revenge on students who ask for letters of recommendation or have unreasonable expectations of students while they are giving up their duties.

The need for a proactive approach to turning students into new counselors is evidenced by stories from MIT students themselves. The timeline reports that mechanical engineering student Nicholas Selby was unexpectedly fired by his advisor a few years ago, a semester and a half before completing his degree and with no knowledge of how to get there.

“People who find themselves in these really traumatic and horrific situations will find it at least a little easier to pull themselves out of these situations,” says Selby timeline“Because… At least they’ll be financially able to stand on their feet for a semester while they try to get their lives back on track.”

The origins of the program date back to 2015 when the Black Students’ Union and Black Graduate Student Association met with administrators – including MIT President L. Rafael Reif – to tackle racial inequality. In the statement of February 23, Reif recalled being “moved” by the talks and making suggestions as to how the school could solve the problems. This led to the creation of several working groups, a year-long analysis of current university policy and the final development of RISE.

It is not just the student’s responsibility to adapt and respond to a counselor’s bad behavior. The faculty is also trained more on topics like sexual harassment and racial injustice to stop problems before they start. MIT has also clarified standards for the allocation of terms of office and updated the handling of discrimination complaints.

The second phase of the program, which is scheduled to start in the spring semester of 2022, aims to support students who need a new advisor because of different research interests and not because of a harmful situation.

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