MIT Sigs Show Compassion During Boston Marathon Bombings

Letter to Headquarters includes praise for kindness during tragedy

A Boston Marathon runner known only by the name of “Alan” wrote to Sigma Chi Fraternity Executive Director and Order of Constantine Sig Mike Dunn, UTAH STATE 1976, on Tuesday, April 16, about the MIT undergraduate chapter and its assistance during a time of tragedy.

When two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, the tragedy left three people dead, hundreds injured and many more people fleeing the scene in absolute terror. Alan and his wife decided to leave their downtown hotel and passed by the MIT chapter house, which opened its doors to runners by offering food, water, Internet access, cell phone chargers and other accommodations to stranded runners and spectators.

“Marathon Monday,” as it is called on campus, is a day of no classes at MIT with people normally relaxing on the front lawn and grilling food. On this day, it was a time for the MIT brothers to showcase their values.

“It was pretty impressive to see that,” Chapter Advisor Jeff Mekler, 2010, said of the selfless act. “That is a great reflection of the chapter, and as Sigma Chi as a Fraternity, regarding our values.”

Mekler’s first task on the day was contacting everyone at the chapter and making sure all brothers were safe, especially with Gabe Blanchet, 2013, running in the 26.2-mile test of endurance. Blanchet finished the race 15 minutes before the bombs exploded. What followed was chaos.

“[Blanchet running the marathon] probably brought [the tragedy] close to home for everybody. People were walking by [the chapter house] and looking devastated,” Mekler said. “[The brothers] invited people in and opened the doors and tried to make it a welcoming place. [The act] happened organically and that’s probably what is even better about it.”

Mekler is very proud of the chapter’s reaction, and so is the Fraternity. At the Executive Committee meeting on April 20, 2013, the EC passed a resolution to honor the MIT chapter for its compassion during tragedy. To view the resolution, click here.

“I feel like you couldn't have hoped them to do anything better in that situation,” Mekler said of the chapter’s brothers instinct to help people.