Supporting our Iranian friends and colleagues

October 06, 2022

To the members of the MIT community,

Like many of you, in the weeks since the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Iran, I have been watching with dismay as violence in that country has escalated. Yet however shocking the reports and images, in a world rife with political violence and injustice, for many of us here in Cambridge it has been possible to frame these events as a horrible but distant tragedy.

In the last few days, in the aftermath of the assault on students and faculty at Sharif University of Technology (SUT) in Tehran, that sense of distance disappeared. SUT is Iran’s leading science and engineering institution. Since its founding in 1966, scores of SUT graduates have made their way to MIT to teach or study. Fifteen current MIT faculty hail from Iran, as do dozens of our students and postdocs, and even more of our alumni. Substantial percentages of all these groups are graduates of SUT.

From the anguished letters that they and other Iranian members of our community have written to me and other MIT leaders, I know that, for them, this conflict is immediate and personal – especially the disorienting violence and repression that shattered the peace of a familiar college campus. They are reeling from a sense of deep injustice. Many fear directly for the safety and survival of their colleagues, former students, classmates, families and friends.

Here in Cambridge, we know we cannot respond meaningfully to every global tragedy, however terrible it makes us feel. In this case, however, I believe the best way we can help is to reach out in support to the precious members of our community for whom this struggle is personal.

So that our community may come together to deepen our understanding and support each other, the Persian Students Association (PSA) has organized an event that is open to all:

Tuesday, October 11
5–8 p.m.
Stratton Student Center (W20), 3rd floor – Twenty Chimneys

I am deeply grateful to the PSA for its leadership and hope many of you will be able to attend.

Below my signature, you will also find the wide range of campus support resources.


L. Rafael Reif

Key campus resources