2017 Working Group on Potential Post-Election Changes to Federal Law and Policy

Chancellor's Charge
*The group met and conducted its work over the course of the 2017 calendar year

The 2016 Presidential election has led to uncertainty within the higher education community, including here at MIT.  As President Reif stated on November 9, the day after the election, “Whatever may change in Washington … it will not change the values and mission that unite us.”  In order to fulfill that commitment, MIT will need to remain fully informed of any changes in federal law, regulation, and policy so that we can proactively respond in a manner consistent with MIT’s values and mission.

To that end, Chancellor Barnhart has created an ad hoc working group – chaired by Professor Christopher Capozzola and comprised of keenly interested students, faculty, and staff – to monitor and inform the senior administration about changes in federal law and policy that have the potential to limit students’ access to MIT or their ability to thrive here.

Unlike many committees, task forces, and working groups that are asked to address a specifically-formulated question, the uncertainty of the future in Washington necessarily requires a more open-ended charge.  As a result, Chancellor Barnhart has provided a general set of action items for this working group:

  • Utilizing balanced, factual resources, inform themselves about possible changes to federal law and policy that could impact higher education, with a particular focus on issues that affect the student experience, such as changes to immigration policy. To stay abreast of these issues, the working group will hold meetings with faculty, subject matter experts, and stakeholders from across the Institute to better understand the significance of potential changes to MIT and its community;
  • Monitor any changes in campus climate that may be tied to post-election discussion or changes to federal law and policy and assist with the development of responses that preserve MIT’s commitment to the free and respectful exchange of ideas regardless of political viewpoint;
  • Identify opportunities for community engagement, respectful dialogue, and education about the new administration and any potential changes to federal law and policy; and
  • Act as a resource to the senior administration to assist in formulating and evaluating possible actions in response to shifts in law or policy.

Chancellor Barnhart expects that the working group will begin its work as soon as possible and continue as necessary to address ongoing developments.

The Chancellor thanked the working group in advance for their dedication to ensuring that MIT remains open and accessible to future generations of talented students, regardless of their backgrounds and regardless of changes in our nation's capital. 


The members of the Working Group on Potential Post-Election Changes to Federal Law and Policy were selected in December 2016 by Chancellor Barnhart. The Undergraduate Association and Graduate Student Council nominated one undergraduate and graduate student respectively to serve on the group.

  • Christopher Capozzola, Associate Professor of History (Chair)
  • Wendy Bae '20, Department of Mechanical Engineering 
  • David Elwell, Director and Associate Dean, International Students Office
  • Gerardo Garcia-Rios, Assistant Dean and Interim Co-Director, Student Support Services
  • Lorna Gibson, Matoula S. Salapatas Professor of Materials Science and Engineering; MacVicar Faculty Fellow
  • Sarah Rankin, Director and Title IX Coordinator
  • Justin Steil, Assistant Professor of Law and Urban Planning
  • Long Tran, Assistant Director of Tax and Global Operations, Office of the Controller
  • Jaren Wilcoxson, Counsel, Office of the General Counsel
  • Joshua Charles Woodard '18, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Joy Yang G, School of Engineering