Checking in with MIT colleagues

October 5, 2016
Edmund Bertschinger, Institute Community and Equity Officer, 2013–2018 |

Dear staff, postdocs, and faculty colleagues,

Recent events, including shootings and other violence occurring across our country, are creating stress for many people at MIT. Vice President and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson has written to our undergraduate and graduate students expressing her care and concern for them. Her note, which follows below, offers students the full support of the Division of Student Life. It also encourages them to take part in a November workshop on unconscious bias that I hope you will attend as well.

I'm writing to you now because the impact of these events extends beyond our students, and because the strength of the MIT community is rooted in our capacity for empathy, kindness, and attentive care for one another.

If you or someone you know is hurting as a result of incidents like the late September shootings of black men in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Charlotte, North Carolina, or of black and Hispanic men in Los Angeles this past weekend, or for any other reason, MIT has resources available to help:

MIT Diversity and Inclusion Offices: People and groups who can help advise you on advancing a respectful and caring community where everyone can learn and do their best. See also a listing of MIT Diversity and Inclusion events.

MIT Work-Life Center: A network of experts for MIT faculty, staff, postdocs, and families, including MyLife Services for emotional and behavioral counseling, work-life consultations, and personalized referrals.

MIT prides itself on our vision for and work to make a better world. But before we think about the world, let us look out for one other. Thank you for helping to build a stronger and more welcoming community for our students, and for each of us. 


Ed Bertschinger
Institute Community and Equity Officer


Dear students, 

I'm writing to check in with you. 

As the headlines deliver relentless news of tragic shootings and other violence in Oklahoma, North Carolina, and most recently in Los Angeles, I have grown increasingly troubled. Some members of our community are feeling more personally vulnerable to the violence than others. Many are feeling a range of emotions – from loss and sadness, to fear and anger, to frustration and helplessness – and we may not know where to turn. 

I want you to know that you can call upon me and others in the Division of Student Life (DSL) whenever you need to talk. We are here for you. You can email me or these colleagues directly, and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

You can also come to our weekly office hours. This Friday (October 7), we will be in 4-105 from 11AM to 1PM. We will have a therapy dog visiting, and room (and food) enough for anyone who stops by. Join us if you want to talk, if you want to listen, or if you just want to feel more connected to others in our community who care about you.

If you can't make it to 4-105 on Friday, please visit the Personal Support and Wellness section of You'll find a number of places where you can turn for help with personal, academic, and health issues.

Often during tragic times, taking care of ourselves and reaching out to others can strengthen our relations and deepen our understanding. To expand our knowledge and to advance a dialogue about creating a more caring and empathetic community, DSL and Institute Community and Equity Officer Ed Bertschinger have invited Harvard Prof. Mahzarin Banaji to host a workshop at MIT. Professor Banaji is the co-author of the best-seller Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People.

I invite you to learn about and register for the November 17 event here.

I look forward to seeing you soon,

Suzy M. Nelson
Vice President and Dean for Student Life