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February 21, 2014

To the University of Miami Family,

In light of the escalating crisis in the Ukraine and Venezuela and the images of violent responses to peaceful student protests by government forces, I am reaching out to all of our University of Miami family today.

Our large international community of students, faculty, and staff includes many individuals from the Ukraine and especially from neighboring Venezuela. Many others are U.S. permanent residents and citizens of Ukrainian or Venezuelan background. And there are also many among you who have friends from the Ukraine and Venezuela. Whether or not you and your families are personally affected by the crises in the Ukraine and Venezuela, as part of the University of Miami community, I am certain that the images of protests, the involvement of university students much like you, and the violence leveled against protesters have been deeply disturbing.

For those of you concerned about family and friends in the Ukraine and Venezuela, I know that it may be difficult for you to get in touch with your loved ones back home, and I sincerely hope that they are fine. For anyone experiencing anxiety and stress and needing assistance, please know that the University of Miami community cares about you and supports you. As always, the Counseling Center, located at 5600 Merrick Drive, Bldg. 21-R, is here to help students and can be reached at 305-284-5511; the center is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. For UM employees, the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program is available to help you and can be reached at 305-284-6604 to learn more about their available resources.

If you would like to learn more about activities UM students are planning, you can visit the Venezuelan Student Association (UNIVEN) on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UNIVENUM.

On behalf of the University of Miami family, please know that our hearts go out to our Ukrainian and Venezuelan communities and to the people of Ukraine and Venezuela in this time of struggle. We are proud that our University of Miami family is speaking out on behalf of their fellow countrymen and friends and in support of peace, freedom, and democracy.