Letter from President Reif: India, Covid, and our global community

The following letter was sent to the MIT community today by President L. Rafael Reif.

To the members of the MIT community,

Hopeful signs of reopening here in Massachusetts stand in cruel contrast to the immense new pandemic suffering unfolding in India, and increasingly across South Asia.

Because MIT is intensely global, our community has countless close ties all over the world. Thousands of members of our MIT community – students, staff, faculty, postdocs, alumni, parents and Corporation members – live in or have family, friends or colleagues in India. For them, the current tragic stories are much more than news reports. The grief and anxiety are personal.

As a native of Venezuela, I know very well the pain and worry, and the sense of responsibility and of helplessness that come with trying to address disaster from afar. Many of us know how it feels to “live in two places” in our hearts – especially when a distant home country is experiencing a crisis. 

So I write now to tap the strength of our global MIT family – around the world, across the country, and right here in Cambridge – in hopes that those of us who can do so will reach out, in whatever way makes sense, to check in, to listen, to console and to offer practical support.

In this work, members of our community are lighting the way. For example, the South Asian Association of Students (SAAS) recently held a targeted fundraiser. The MIT India Program has vetted and compiled a list of resources and organizations active on the ground in India, as well as other ways to help, and is now seeking to coordinate efforts with other Boston-area universities. And many Indian American business leaders, including MIT alumni, are setting inspiring examples.

The painful news from India continues to pour in, at a point in the spring semester that is always intense at MIT. If you would benefit from personal, academic or spiritual support in this moment, or you know someone who would, I urge you to reach out to our campus resources for staff, postdocs and faculty, and for students.

And I ask that we do all we can to look out for each other with patience, generosity and understanding.

With shared sympathy,

 L. Rafael Reif