People from across MIT gathered outside the Student Center on March 3 for a candlelight rally to support MIT’s Ukrainian community and condemn attacks on Ukraine by Russian forces.
“It was great to see so many people that I’ve never met before come together,” said Ukrainian third-year student Mariia Smyk. “It was such a powerful experience.”
Students shared personal stories of loved ones in Ukraine who are evacuating to neighboring countries, sheltering from attacks, or joining resistance efforts. Others offered perspectives on the war’s global impact. “When a crisis happens, we discover the strength that we really have,” said Thea Keith-Lucas, chaplain to the Institute and associate dean for the Office of Religious, Ethical, and Spiritual Life (ORSEL). “There’s real power in our capacity for generosity and our capacity for mutual aid.”
Ukrainian students including Smyk, Sasha Horokh, Ether Bezugla, Artem Laptiev, Anita Dey Barsukova, and Nikita Romanov, organized the event with help from ORSEL. Following the rally, attendees moved to the Student Center’s Lobdell Dining Hall to discuss how to help with humanitarian efforts.
MIT senior leaders reached out to students affected by the conflict on March 2. Even before then, deans from Student Support Services (S3) and GradSupport contacted students proactively to discuss personal and academic support options. Additionally, Ukrainian undergraduate students’ spring term work contributions were waived and Ukrainian graduate students were provided similar financial support. The Division of Student Life offered Ukrainian students meal swipes, and the International Students Office is standing by to assist with potential visa issues. Students who are Ukrainian nationals can email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
“We cannot begin to understand what these students are going through,” said Suzy Nelson, vice chancellor and dean for student life. “But, support resources are available and ready to help everyone affected by the conflict in Ukraine.”