A Statement from President Munson Regarding Ukraine

Dear RIT Community,

Like you, this past week I have been horrified by the unprovoked war in Ukraine, a sovereign, democratic nation. It strikes at all our hearts. The crisis worsens each day and these are uncertain times for the people of Ukraine, their loved ones worldwide, and citizens across the globe as the humanitarian toll expands.

As a university with global reach and a community made up of diverse members, we stand in unity with the people of Ukraine and offer our support and services toward bringing resolution and peace to the region. At RIT, we have students, faculty, staff, and alumni from more than 100 nations, including Ukraine and Russia. We have been directly in touch with our Ukrainian and Russian students and we will care for and support them … for they cannot return to life as they knew it.

There are many meaningful ways we can help Ukraine. This week, RIT students raised funds for the Ukrainian Red Cross. In addition, organizations on the ground and globally are supporting people within Ukraine — and refugees seeking safety elsewhere — with medical and humanitarian aid. Learn more here about efforts from UNICEF, the UN Refugee Agency, the World Health Organization Fund, and more. The U.S. State Department is also a good resource for information.

Rochester is home to one of the largest Ukrainian populations in the state, with approximately 40,000 people of Ukrainian descent living in this area. Locally, there are efforts with collections for humanitarian efforts organized through an organization called ROC Maidan. In addition, Intervol, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting the world’s neediest to materials, people, and opportunities is holding local drives around Rochester to assist. These are just some of the options for contributing.

At RIT, we are closely monitoring the situation and the potential impact on our study-abroad programs and campuses in Eastern Europe. We do not currently have any study-abroad students in Ukraine or Russia. Though our campuses in Croatia and Kosovo are operating fully, we know that effects of war in Europe are especially unsettling to many in those countries.  Please keep our students and colleagues in Croatia and Kosovo in your thoughts and reach out to friends you may have there. RIT has a dedicated strategic health and safety team that works in conjunction with our partners abroad and a security management agency to make assessments. We have determined that there are no safety threats to our programs overseas as of today. We anticipate that our current and planned programs will continue to move forward. We will monitor the situation very closely and keep you updated as it evolves.

RIT is part of a coalition of over 500 college and university presidents, who have called on U.S. government leaders to issue a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation and announce Special Student Relief (SSR) for Ukrainian nationals residing or studying in the United States. TPS provides work permits and protection from deportation for those from designated countries who cannot safely return to their home country. SSR provides additional flexibility and relief for Ukrainian international students, preventing them from losing their F-1 Visa status.

As many of us head off to a well-deserved Spring Break, I encourage everyone to reflect on and continue promoting our commitment to global harmony and the protection of innocent lives. We urgently call for sanity and peace. Let’s be sure to care for one another. In due time, the world will help rebuild Ukraine.

Blessings to the Ukrainian people.

David Munson, President
munson@rit.edu