Letter from President Charles M. Vest to the families of MIT students


President Charles M. Vest, who is out of the country and unable to return due to the flying restrictions, issued this letter to the families of MIT students.

In light of Tuesday's terrible events, I know that you have great concerns about your children, many of whom are away from home for the first time. Indeed, Becky and I are constantly thinking of our son who is a physician tending to the wounded in New York.

Since yesterday morning, we have focused our efforts on helping our students -- as individuals and as members of our community -- to deal with this tragedy.

We continue to hold classes, but business as usual clearly is not possible. Some had suggested that we close the Institute and cancel classes, but we believe that this is precisely the time when faculty, students and staff need to be together. Consequently, we have asked faculty to hold classes, but have encouraged them to use class time to discuss the issues. We have asked them to grant extensions to students who may need extra time to complete their assignments, and to excuse absence from class by those who have been touched more personally by this tragedy.

Some of the other ways we are helping to support our students in this difficult time include the following:

  • The deans, other student services staff, and faculty and staff from throughout the Institute have been meeting with students at all hours.
  • Housemasters, as well as graduate tutors in the residences and independent living groups, have been meeting with individuals and groups of students.
  • The chapel has been open during the evening as well as the day, with chaplains in attendance for counseling and support.
  • We are holding community gatherings, where all students, faculty and staff are invited to bear witness to our loss, to support each other, and to draw strength from our common sense of purpose and caring.

Each of us has been affected in profound ways by these attacks. Our first priority is to assist each other, especially our students, through this troubled time. We know that students from some backgrounds or countries may be especially fearful or concerned, and we are determined that this occasion will not undermine our commitment to respect and learn from the rich variety of cultures that make up MIT. I am confident that together, we will sustain and strengthen our diverse and vibrant community.

We hope that you will keep in close touch with your children through the difficult days and weeks ahead. If you want to keep current with activities on campus, you can check the MIT home page and, as always, you may contact the Dean for Student Life, the Associate Dean for Residential Life and Student Life Programs, the Counseling and Support Services, or the Housemasters.

I pledge that we will continue to do our best to educate and sustain all of our students through this time, and always.


Topics: MIT presidency, September 11

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