CUAFA Statement on the Role of Diversity in MIT’s Educational Mission
Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid
A diverse student body is and has long been critical to the educational mission of MIT. We are committed to providing our students “with an education that combines rigorous academic study and the excitement of discovery with the support and intellectual stimulation of a diverse campus community.”1
Our goal in forming the student body might simply be to select students who are, individually, excellent. Indeed, this is essential to our practice: every student we admit has demonstrated academic and personal excellence that placed them at the top of our applicant pool. But we strive for more than just individual excellence. Because our students learn so much from one another, our goal is to form a student body that is, collectively, excellent: an excellent group of excellent students, who will surprise, challenge, and support one another.
Our educational approach, reflected in the MIT motto Mens et Manus, engages students directly in the process of innovation — hands-on work, often carried out in groups, that requires creativity as well as camaraderie. Our students’ success depends on their exposure to many viewpoints and their ability to trust peers to provide both support and criticism. Moreover, the experience of working with a diverse set of peers at MIT prepares our students to work effectively in the world outside MIT: it opens their minds and attunes them both to the variety of strengths and the variety of concerns of others.
Diversity of viewpoints is derived from a diversity of backgrounds and experiences along many dimensions, among which are gender, race, ethnicity, culture, and socio-economic background.
How much diversity is necessary to achieve our goals? Every student should feel that “there are people like me here” and “there are people different from me here.” No student should feel isolated; all students should come into contact with members of other groups and experience them as colleagues with valuable ideas and insights.
It is through this experience of the richness and diversity of interests, strengths, viewpoints and concerns of their fellow students that our students become open-minded intellectuals and innovators, primed to pursue the MIT mission of the betterment of humankind.