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In wake of Japan disaster, MIT community mobilizes for events, fundraising

Students are collecting donations and message of hope for the people of Japan in Lobby 10 and the Stata Center through the end of the week.
Students are collecting donations and message of hope for the people of Japan in Lobby 10 and the Stata Center through the end of the week.

In the days since a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated Japan, the MIT community has mobilized to gather aid for the victims, set up events to inform the community and general public and reached out to those from MIT directly impacted by the tragedy.

Since Monday, the Japanese Association of MIT has been collecting donations and messages — in Lobby 10 and the Stata Center — to deliver to the Japanese people. The group has already raised more than $10,000, all of which will be used to provide the earthquake victims with shelter, food and clothes, as well as to help rebuild their homes and restore agricultural lands. Volunteers will continue collecting donations and messages through this week. More information is available at At 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, the Figure Skating Club will hold a benefit skate to benefit the Japanese Association's donation drive at the Johnson Athletics Center.

On Tuesday, the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering held a briefing to inform the MIT community about the Japan nuclear crisis. Nuclear engineers, public health and risk assessment specialists explained the rapidly unfolding events at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, describing how the reactors work, what we know about what has taken place there so far, and how to put the risks to the population in proper perspective. Video from the event is now available on TechTV.

Nuclear science and engineering students, with support from faculty, are also maintaining a blog at with information about about the incident at the Fukushima nuclear power plants in Japan.

Today, from 5:30-7 p.m. in Bartos Theater, the MIT Center for International Studies, MIT Japan Program and Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering will host a special Starr Forum also focusing on Japan’s nuclear crisis. The event will examine Japan’s nuclear past, present and future from a political and engineering perspective, and will include an eyewitness account of the crisis and the Japanese government's response.

On Thursday, the Board of Chaplains at the Institute will hold a moment of silence, prayer, meditation and reflection in response to the tragedy. The event, from 4-5:30 p.m. in the MIT Chapel, is open to the whole community, and will include chaplains from several different religious groups.

Also on Thursday from 6-7 p.m. in 56-167, the MIT Energy Club will hold a roundtable discussion titled “Hazards and Nuclear Power: Understanding the Situation in Japan.” Nuclear specialists and club members will discuss the nuclear situation and some of its potential implications. More information is available on the club’s website.

The MIT Public Service Center is also compiling a list of Japan-related events, and updates about those events can be found on its website

As of March 17, the Institute's travel policy has also been updated to reflect the situtation in Japan: a "high travel warning" is in effect, meaning that student travel there is prohibited and travel by faculty and staff is strongly discouraged (read more)

As noted in a letter from President Susan Hockfield over the weekend, any MIT community members in need of support or counseling should contact MIT Medical's Mental Health Service at 617-253-2916 or Student Support Services at 617-253-4861.

The News Office will update this story as more information becomes available.

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