Women's Basketball Stands in Solidarity With the MIT Community

Women's Basketball Stands in Solidarity With the MIT Community

Cambridge, Mass. (February 3) -- At the MIT women's basketball game vs. Wesleyan University (Conn.) on January 31, the MIT team members and coaching staff showed support for those both at MIT and around the world who have been affected by the recent Executive Order on Immigration. During the national anthem, the players and coaches stood with their arms linked, leaving a spot open in the lineup to represent community members who have been prevented from traveling back to MIT due to the order.

"I am so proud of the team for their leadership, the thoughtful discussions we had and the statement of solidarity they made," said head coach Sonia Raman. "They recognize the platform they have as student-athletes and they did not want to remain silent as their classmates and the greater MIT and global community have been affected. It felt powerful to be a part of that group of women, arms linked, in that moment."

This show of support was first brought forward by the women's basketball team captains, including senior class president Liana Ilutzi (East Hanover, N.J.) and sophomore Kara Holinski (Livonia, Mich.). As a group, the players and coaches talked about the best way to show support for these individuals. After thoughtful discussion, the team decided on this action.

"So we as a team feel very strongly about supporting our community and supporting our peers and we wanted to give a representation of our values as a team," said Ilutzi. "What we value is inclusiveness and fairness. We wanted to do something as we have this great platform where we are MIT women's varsity basketball and if we have the ability to make a statement, we should."

Prior to the national anthem, the following statement was read both in Rockwell Cage and on the online broadcast to make the audience aware of the action, and explain its symbolism.

"Due to recent changes in US immigration policy, the MIT women's basketball team, in solidarity, leave a space for all of those affected within our community and around the globe." 

In additional news, MIT President L. Rafael Reif announced on Friday afternoon that two MIT undergraduates previously blocked from returning because of the January 27th executive order on immigration were able to safely return to MIT. The return of these two undergraduates hinged on a court order issued last Sunday affecting certain categories of individuals blocked from the US by the executive order. That court order - a "temporary stay" - made it legal for such individuals to fly into Logan until February 5th. To see President Reif's statement and the full story, please visit this link.

As an inclusive and diverse campus, MIT supports its student-athletes and coaches in this show of solidarity and concern for those affected by the executive order, both at MIT and around the world.

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Senior captain Liana Ilutzi and sophomore captain Kara Holinski talk about
the impact of the recent Executive Order.