The Western and London community gathered in a sombre memorial Wednesday to mourn the deaths of four Western students who were aboard Ukraine International Flight PS752 when it crashed near Tehran earlier that day.
All were International students at Western: three current graduate students and an incoming graduate student.
- Ghazal Nourian, a PhD candidate in Mechanical & Materials Engineering
- Milad Nahavandi, a PhD candidate in Chemical & Biochemical Engineering
- Hadis Hayatdavoudi, a PhD candidate in Chemistry; and
- Sajedeh Saraeian, an incoming Masters student in Chemical Engineering & Biochemical Engineering.
About 250 gathered at the International and Graduate Affairs Building to remember, pay their respects and support one another. A steady line of friends and colleagues among the crowd signed memory books that lay open in front of framed photos, on a table with flickering candles.
President Alan Shepard called their deaths “devastating” to Western, Canada and the world and noted more than a dozen universities in Canada are also mourning the loss of students and friends and are also gathering to remember.
“It’s just heartbreaking and difficult to comprehend,” Shepard said. “We grieve their untimely deaths and we grieve for their friends and their families and for their friends here at the university.”
“This is not right,” said London Mayor Ed Holder, his voice breaking with emotion. “We should not be here this afternoon grieving the loss of these four young people. We should be celebrating their return home. It’s not right.”
Holder said he did not know the students, but already in their young lives they had shown greatness. All in the city of London, he said, “wrap our arms around you in your grief and say to you, ‘we are one.’”
The flags at Western and at London city hall have been lowered to half-mast.
Jina Kum, president of the Society of Graduate Students, offered condolences to the friends and families of the students.
“The loss of these graduate students is significant not only to the fields in which they actively contributed, but also the Western community will feel their absence in the days and years to come.”
The flight, en route to Kiev, went down shortly after takeoff from Tehran. All 176 people on board were killed.
The Chu Centre in Western International will be open Thursday from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. and on Friday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. for casual drop-in support. Refreshments will be available, as well as break out spaces for more private conversations as necessary.
Any students needing more individual support and/or academic accommodations can email SSCM@uwo.ca.
Counselling services are always available to support students. Walk-in Crisis Support is available on-campus from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday at Student Health Services, University Community Centre (UCC), Room 11. Visit the Health and Wellness website for more areas of help.
Anyone wishing to speak to someone over the phone can contact Morneau Shepell at 1-844-880-9142 or Human Resources at 519-661-2111 x86814.