MSI Summer Program Application Information

MSI Invite.

Dear MSI Invitees,

Welcome to Occidental! We are delighted that you have chosen to come to Oxy and greatly look forward to meeting you in the fall.

We are writing to invite you to participate in Occidental College's Multicultural Summer Institute. Occidental’s signature Multicultural Summer Institute (MSI) is a four-week academic, residential program for incoming first-year students who represent a variety of ethnic, regional, and cultural backgrounds. We are excited to be moving forward with MSI this summer and have made some adjustments to the program to accommodate the current public health situation. All MSI participants must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the start of the program.

MSI is a rigorous academic course taught by Oxy faculty. This year’s program is titled "Mutual Aid: Literary Representations of Relief and Collective Care." This course will examine how literature deepens our understanding of "mutual aid" and asks, is mutual aid merely a short-term practice during mass emergencies, or does it provide an alternate viewpoint for communal self-reflection and structural transformation? Can we think about using the principles of mutual aid to make lasting changes in social relationships and political structures? These questions have vividly come to the forefront throughout—and as a result of—the COVID-19 pandemic. The assigned readings, discussions and assignments over the duration of this course will help students imagine how the seemingly impossible becomes possible through the simple uses of mutual aid.

MSI is divided into two integrated components; an academic 4-unit course and a co-curricular program. Upon completion, students will earn 4 units towards their degree (the equivalent of 1 full course) and also meet one of Oxy's Core Program Requirements, Global Connections. The co-curricular component will focus on engaged reflection around social justice and collective care. MSI is a full-time program, so other academics, work, or personal commitments will not be possible while in residence during the month of July.

In MSI, you will collaborate closely with your peers, faculty members teaching the class and staff and administrators at the College. You will be challenged to develop your critical thinking, close reading and analytical writing skills, while connecting across differences and integrating into the campus community through the co-curricular portion of the program. The relationships you will develop with fellow students, the MSI faculty and staff, as well as the Oxy community during the program, will serve you throughout your four years at the College. You can learn more about the program on the MSI website.

To show your interest in becoming part of MSI, we ask that you submit a short application explaining why you are interested in being part of the program. A few things to note:

  • The application is due Friday, June 3 (priority will be given to early applicants)
  • The summer session dates for the program are July 1–July 30. Move-in on July 1 and move-out on July 30 is required
  • MSI is free. The College covers the costs of tuition as well as room and board
  • Travel grants to offset airfare or gasoline costs are available to qualifying students upon admission to the program

If you have any questions or would like to speak to someone about the program or any aspect of the application, please contact MSI Faculty Director Professor Puerto at, or the Intercultural Community Center Staff at

We encourage you to review the information on our website with your family and submit your application to this unique program. We hope to meet you in July.

Again, congratulations!

Best wishes,

Alexandra Puerto
Chair and Associate Professor of History, Advisory Committee Latino/a and Latin American Studies
Co-Director, MSI

Robin Maxile 
Associate Director for Racial Equity, Intercultural Community Center
Co-Director, MSI