Roles & Relationships

This section attempts to define and address the roles, relationships, and expectations that currently exist in the life of a graduate student, as well as the fundamental principles that guide these relationships.

Areas of focus include the faculty advisor; the department; the Institute as a whole; RA and TA appointments; student leadership; and academic integrity.

The principles that underlie these guidelines are open communication and respect. Graduate students and the other members of the MIT community share responsibility for adhering to these principles.

Additionally, all members of the Institute community should be aware that MIT has a comprehensive policy regarding consensual sexual or romantic relationships in the workplace or academic environment.

A publication called “Best Practices in Graduate Student Advising” is available in two PDF layouts: as a single continuously scrolling page, or in a 2-page format.

Best Practices in Graduate Student Advising” does not seek to challenge departmental individuality. Instead, it attempts to bring together those policies that apply across departmental boundaries so that graduate students may have a common reference point. The majority of educational, recreational, and social opportunities are found at the departmental level. There are significant differences among the academic departments and interdisciplinary programs in philosophical approaches, procedures, physical settings, and budgets. Local policies and regulations vary widely. Some of these variations are appropriate to one particular department’s field of research and study. Many Institute policies, however, are applicable to graduate students regardless of department or concentration and support these best practices.

The statement of roles and relationships described in this section was prepared initially by the Academic Projects and Policies Committee of the Graduate Student Council (GSC). The Office of Graduate Education (OGE) and the Graduate Student Council (GSC) collaborate on ongoing work in the development and dissemination of best practices in graduate student advising.  The statements regarding the relationship between the student and the advisor, department, and Institute were revised in 2014–2015 as part of an initiative led by the GSC Academic Research and Careers (ARC) Committee, to create guidelines for best practices in graduate student advising and mentoring. The guidelines are endorsed by the Committee on Graduate Programs.

Students and faculty are encouraged to manage conflicts and seek assistance through a variety of MIT resources and offices. These include the list below, and can help you identify others:

Department/Program Graduate Officer

Department/Program Heads

Ombuds Office

Independent, confidential, and neutral resource that helps MIT community members express concerns, resolve disputes, manage conflicts, and learn more productive ways of communicating.
Room 10-213, Phone 617-253-5921

Office of Graduate Education (OGE)

Provides advice and counsel on faculty/student relationships, conflict negotiation, funding, academic progress, interpersonal concerns, a student’s rights and responsibilities, and more.
Room 3-138, Phone 617-253-4860, Email

Resources for Easing Friction and Stress: REFS

REFS students are trained by Conflict Management@MIT to provide low barrier, confidential services to their peers in the form of support, coaching, listening, de-escalation, and informal mentoring and mediation.

Institute Discrimination & Harassment Response Office (IDHR)

Contact this office for information about resources and reporting options for all bias-related incidents, including gender, sexual harassment, sexual assault, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or other identify. This is the central contact point for incidents involving any MIT community member.
Room W31-223, Phone  617-324-7526, Email

Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards

Resource for helping students to develop and enforce community standards and values.
Room W20-507, Phone 617-258-8423, Email

Institute Community & Equity Office

The mission of the Institute Community & Equity Office (ICEO) is to advance a respectful and caring community that embraces diversity and empowers everyone to learn and do their best at MIT.
Room 4-250, Phone 617-324-7319, Email

Community Wellness @ MIT Medical

Helps students to make healthy choices by offering classes, programs, and resources.
Room E23-205, Phone 617-253-1316, Email

MIT Medical

Central resource for all things related to physical and mental well-being.
Building E23, Phone 617-253-4481

Student Mental Health & Counseling @ MIT Medical

Support for students dealing with personal concerns including anxiety, depression, relationship problems, stress, or other issues. For urgent concerns, call to speak to a Mental Health clinician.
Building E23, 3rd floor, Phone 617-253-2916 weekdays, 617-253-448 nights/weekends