Committee on Race and Diversity records
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The records of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Committee on Race and Diversity (CRD) document the structure, organization and activities of the Committee on Race and Diversity and its former iteration the Committee on Campus Race Relations. The materials date from 1986 to 2009 and are organized chronologically. The majority of the papers consist of meeting minutes and agendas, membership lists, and correspondence, as well as grant proposals and letters of acceptance or rejection which in many cases include reasons for the Committee’s decisions. Many of the meeting minutes include articles from the press that highlight current issues that were addressed at the meetings. The materials also include reports to the president which give the history and an overview of activities and events sponsored or organized by the Committee on Race and Diversity. Reports on racial climate at MIT and the guide to course offerings highlight the Committee’s mission of fostering positive racial relations.
- 1986 - 2009
All materials in this collection are restricted for 20 years from their date of creation. Some materials are restricted for 75 years in accordance with FERPA, these restrictions are noted in the finding aid.
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In January 1994, President Charles Vest announced the establishment of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Committee on Campus Race Relations (CCRR) at the annual Martin Luther King Breakfast. In October 2007, the Committee on Campus Race Relations merged with the Martin Luther King Committee to form the Committee on Race and Diversity (CRD).
The Committee on Campus Race Relations was born out of the “PBE (Phi Beta Epsilon) incident” in 1993, in which four African-American students accused members of Phi Beta Epsilon fraternity of shouting racial slurs which the fraternity denied. The subsequent Institute investigation failed to fully resolve the situation and the Committee was formed to serve as a mediator and advisor to the administration in such cases. The organization’s goals are to foster positive race relations on campus through films, lectures, events, and a grant program which sponsors events organized by different departments, organizations, students and faculty.
The Committee on Campus Race Relations published the first edition of the Guide to Studies in Racial, Ethnic and Intercultural Relations in 1994 which was given to all incoming freshmen and faculty members to promote interest and awareness of all courses offered at MIT which fostered positive race relations and multi-cultural understanding.
In the mid-1990s, Dr. Clarence G. Williams, with the help of students, faculty and staff, produced a series of videotapes titled “It’s Intuitively Obvious,” which showed minority students discussing their experiences with racial relations on campus. In 1996, the Committee on Campus Race Relations produced a fifth videotape and the series is still used today to facilitate discussions between students, faculty and staff which highlight the issues of racial relations, and promote conversations among students of different backgrounds.
Seeing that women and minorities were not represented in the Infinite Corridor, the Committee collaborated with the MIT Museum in April 1997 and established a UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program) to create an exhibit on Dr. Shirley Jackson who was the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. at MIT in 1973.
In October and November 1997, the CCRR hosted "Race 2000 -- A Provocative Series on Race Relations,” which focused on racial issues and activism. The series featured Kathleen Cleaver, a former member of the Central Committee of the Black Panther Party and Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor and anti-war activist.
In October 2001, the Committee on Campus Race Relations, in collaboration with the Center for Reflective Community Relations established a web-based forum for MIT students, faculty and staff to support expression of different viewpoints and dialogues in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001.
Because of decentralization and a lack of clear identity and direction, the Committee was restructured and merged with the Martin Luther King Committee (which was faced with similar problems) in October 2007. Before the merge both committees were seen as having similar mandates and there was a lack of connection and cooperation between the two and the upper administration. The merged entity became the Committee on Race and Diversity which is responsible for sponsoring and cosponsoring events and forums as well as administering grants, organizing the annual Martin Luther King Breakfast and advising the administration in matters related to racial issues.
Many ethnic and religious organizations, as well as faculty and students are able to receive grants from the Committee on Race and Diversity to organize films, lectures, performances, reading series, forums, and in one case a purchase of East African music instruments. The grant recipients need to demonstrate how their event will enrich and promote racial and cultural exchanges in the MIT community and are required to write a final report. The grant program has been the most successful and long-lasting contribution of the Committee to the MIT community.
Since 2011, along with the Council on Staff Diversity and Inclusion (CSDI), the Committee organizes the Institute Diversity Summit, an annual symposium around themes such as “meritocracy and inclusion” and “demystifying diversity.”
In the summer of 2013, after meeting with the Committee on Race and Diversity and the Council on Staff Diversity and Inclusion, President L. Rafael Reif created a post of Institute Community and Equity Officer (ICEO) charged with developing a plan which would advance the vision of inclusion and collegiality among the faculty, students and staff. The Committee on Race and Diversity grants program is now administered by the Institute Community and Equity Office.
3 Cubic Feet (3 record cartons)
Language of Materials
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Committee on Race and Diversity records document the activities of the Committee on Race and Diversity, as well as its predecessor, the Committee on Campus Race Relations before it merged with the Martin Luther King Committee in October 2007. The records date from 1986 to 2009 and include meeting minutes and agendas, correspondence, membership lists, newspaper articles, grant proposals, and information on events sponsored by the Committee. The Committee sponsored publications, including a guide of all subjects taught at MIT related to race relations distributed to all incoming freshmen, movies, panels, talks, and presentations which were aimed at fostering positive race relations and improving minority experiences on the MIT campus.
Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.
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- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Committee on Race and Diversity records
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- 2023 January: Revised by Chris Tanguay in January 2023 to update access notes.
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