“Campus students and scholars express concern over Russia-Ukraine war

Six days after Russia invaded Ukraine, UC Berkeley students and scholars from Russia and Ukraine gathered to express their concerns about the humanitarian crisis and insufficient campus support.

About 20 students and campus researchers gathered outside Sproul Hall on Monday and Tuesday chanting “Stand With Ukraine” and holding signs with slogans such as “Stop Putin, Stop War” and “Support Ukraine , save lives”. They also handed out leaflets urging passers-by to donate to humanitarian funds and pay for protective equipment for local defense units and the Ukrainian army.

“A lot of people may not have ties to Ukraine, so the ongoing war may seem distant to them,” Max Vaysburd, a freshman on campus, said at the rally. “We want to show them that it’s personal for a lot of people.”

Vaysburd noted that his family members and friends are stuck in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, and cannot flee.

Sofia Surzhak, a freshman on the Ukraine campus, also expressed concern for her family and friends in Ukraine.

“My family is trapped in Ukraine,” Surzhak said. “My family is not fleeing, because men cannot flee the country and my mother would not leave without my father.”

Surzhak added that his father is not currently in the army because he has no experience, but he may join the army in the future.

“My aunt lives two minutes from the bombardment,” Surzhak said. “She and her 6-year-old son are trapped without power for the fifth day.”

Igor Chirikov, senior researcher and director of student experience at the University Research Consortium, added that there was a lot of uncertainty among students with ties to Ukraine, mainly about their families and friends.

“The students show overwhelming support (at the rally),” Chirikov said. “We saw people taking pictures, coming up asking how they could help.”

Chirikov added that the campus can provide mental health care and help adjust class schedules so students and faculty have less worry about classes as they worry about loved ones.

Also, the campus should check with all Ukrainian students and make sure they have funds to support them, he said.

“Berkeley has a history of anti-war activism,” Chirikov said. “Nobody wants this war. Everyone wants Ukraine to be a happy and prosperous country.

According to campus spokeswoman Janet Gilmore, The Berkeley International Office sent emails to students and scholars in Russia and Ukraine showing their support and providing information about counseling services on February 22 and 24.

As Berkeley’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee released a statement of support for Ukrainian students and scholars on Feb. 22, Vaysburd said UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ should also speak out, adding that the MIT president sent a public statement to stand with Ukraine and cut ties with Russian academic partners.

Maksym Zubkov, a Ukrainian graduate student in the campus math department, said he was “incredibly disappointed” and felt “left out” at the lack of response from UC Berkeley officials.

“I’m trying to reach out to the UC Berkeley community to ask (the) UC Berkeley chancellor to speak up, just speak up, because she’s our leader. She is the representative of (campus) and then she is silent for six days,” Zubkov said. “It’s really painful for me.”

Zubkov is from Ukraine and has teamed up with his brother and friends in Ukraine to raise money to support rent and daily necessities for low-income families and animal shelters in his hometown of Chernomorsk and Ukraine. Odessa.

Zubkov noted that he emailed Christ on Sunday and visited several departments, California Hall and University House on Tuesday, hoping to speak to campus officials, but that he didn’t. had been able to reach any of them directly.

“I’m desperate to talk to someone because I just need some kind of support,” Zubkov said. “I just didn’t find that support on campus.”

Meanwhile, campus senior Borya Sobolev said many Russian students supported Ukraine, but felt “isolated” because there were no ads on campus supporting them.

Zubkov said the campus should communicate with Ukrainians and affected students.

“It is a heartbreaking moment that touches the hearts of many students and people, for Russians and many friends in Ukraine,” Sobolev said, adding that public support for Ukraine can now mean up to 20 years of prison for Russian citizens.

There are many ways the campus can help Ukrainians, such as direct donations, providing scholarships, and sending a campus-wide email with donation links and actionable steps to support the Ukrainians, added Sobolev.

Students can support the people of Ukraine by participating in rallies and donating to humanitarian funds, Vaysburd said. Vaysburd noted that the rallies are important because they push governments to keep sending aid to Ukraine.

“If people can donate even a dollar, it would mean a lot,” Surzhak said.

Several campus departments, including the Haas School of Business and Slavic Languages ​​and Literatures, issued statements condemning the Russian invasion and supporting affected campus members. The campus’ Institute for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies has also provided a list of donation links on its website and will host a virtual roundtable on Ukraine on Wednesday at 4:15 p.m.

Gilmore added that Berkeley News and Berkeley Blog have shared several stories and interviews with Ukrainian scholars and students. Dania Matos, campus vice chancellor for equity and inclusion, also released a statement of solidarity on Tuesday evening. She invites concerned students and scholars to join a virtual meeting Friday at 10 a.m. to discuss how the UC Berkeley campus can best support and support them.

“This is a humanitarian disaster. We cannot be spectators.” Sobolev said at the rally. “War and military aggression should never be a solution in a civilized world.”

Contact Winnie Lau at [email protected]and follow her on Twitter at @winniewy_lau.

Comments are closed.