Mediation@MIT 2nd Level

REFS Programs

What are REFS?

The REFS PROGRAMS (Resources for Easing Friction and Stress) are department-based, graduate student run, peer support programs.

REFS provide low barrier, informal, confidential* services to their peers in conflict management. REFS are available to their fellow graduate students to support, informally mentor, and mediate during times of uncertainty, stress or conflict. REFS can provide information about appropriate resources and make informed referrals. Students talk to their REFS about anything from lab-partners disputes to uncertainty in communication with advisors to personal issues.

REFS Programs require that each REFS take a conflict management training presented by Conflict Resolution@MIT and go through an application process. Download the REFS job description here.

Often REFS are able to identify concerns at a very early stage, or identify trends and clusters of problems that they can then communicate to departmental leadership.

*REFS maintain confidentiality. REFS will not answer questions about people with whom they may have spoken, or disclose an individual.s name or specific issue unless during the course of discussions with a visitor, the REF is given permission to do so for the purpose of informal conflict resolution, and if the REF also agrees to attempt informal resolution. The only exception to this pledge of confidentiality is where the REF determines that there is an imminent risk of serious harm.

In March 2012, the MIT News Office published this feature on the REFS program.

What departments have REFS?

Currently there are REFS Programs in the following departments:

Setting up REFS

If you would like to set up a REFS Program in your department, lab or center or are interested in finding out more about the Program, please contact and we can provide information, advice and support.