Michael Payne

Department: Chemistry
Hometown: Traverse City, MI
GCF Position:REFS Program Support

I work with REFS (Resources for Easing Friction and Stress), a program of graduate students trained in conflict management who provide confidential, peer-to-peer support for other graduate students at MIT. The REFS program has been steadily growing since its inception twenty years ago, with more than 100 REFS across several departments and new REFS being trained every term. Each departmental REFS program (dREFS) operates independently, and my project aims to support and sustain the various dREFS models by improving communication between the dREFS, building a body of program knowledge, and helping promote wellbeing in our community.

Michael works to improve information sharing between the various REFS programs.

How does your GCF project enhance the graduate student community?

The REFS program is the only confidential peer-based resource with a graduate student focus, and REFS are especially valuable to students from underrepresented groups (gender, ethnicity, class, sexuality, etc.). My work as GCF will improve information sharing between the various REFS programs, enhancing the services which REFS provide. This information will also support the establishment of new dREFS programs across the institute. Ultimately, my work will compile information to help advocate for graduate student well being at MIT.

What is your favorite part of working in your GCF position?

My favorite part of working with REFS is, without a doubt, the people. Each REFS member is so passionate about the wellbeing of their peers, and it’s inspirational to see so many community-driven students taking time from their (heavy) workloads to try and improve the MIT experience for everyone.