By The Delphian Staff
In the early hours of February 24, after several tense weeks of negotiation with the international community, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” in the country of Ukraine. Overnight hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fled into bomb shelters and subway stations throughout the nation. Others made the hard decision to flee their homeland to seek refuge in other countries, sparking a humanitarian crisis in Ukraine’s neighboring countries. And others have stayed to fight. As of this writing, the human casualties of war are growing. Many in the Adelphi community are fearful for family and friends back home, while others are watching in horror not only the reality of the war, but that it is taking place within a media environment that is bringing live war images to us both on TV and social media.
As a result, President Christine M. Riordan contacted the university community last week to state: “As we continue to witness Russia's invasion of Ukraine, many of us are concerned and anxious about the human toll and implications for our global community. Our Adelphi family cares deeply about the safety and well-being of all people, especially those most impacted by the ongoing violence.”
She said the Office of International Student Services has reached out to provide personal support to AU students from Russia and Ukraine and that they were advised to contact the Student Counseling Center for ongoing assistance at any time. Employees were reminded they can reach out to the Employee Assistance Program if they wish to seek counseling.
According to Kristen Capezza, vice president of Enrollment Management and University Communications, AU currently has two students from Ukraine and six from Russia. There are another three students from Belarus. But as Susan Briziarelli, associate provost for Faculty Support and Global Affairs, said, “Bear in mind that these are the numbers of students who are here on visas. There may well be others that are US students whose parents emigrated from these countries and would still have family there.”
Vladislav Stepanov, a junior sports management major from Kyiv, Ukraine, who is a member of the men’s soccer team, expressed his outrage against the Russian government for attacking his country. But he added that his family is not in danger as they are outside the country. “However, I have many [childhood and school] friends, as well as ex-teammates that are there right now. I am very worried for them, and I cannot sleep knowing that something might happen to them. I am also worried for every Ukrainian soldier and volunteer, as they are the true heroes of our country. I whole-heartedly believe that their bravery and strength is going to stop this war and keep Ukraine safe.”
Stepanov shared this plea for the AU community. “I am asking every person who is reading this to take action, which is first to spread the word. Use the power of your social media to spread awareness about what is going on in Ukraine, because today it might be my home in war, but tomorrow, it might be yours,” he said. “And the second action is to donate to help Ukraine. You can find an organization of your choice whether it’s the Ukrainian military or Red Cross or any other organization. We need your help like never before.”
Eva Haishun, a sophomore communications major, is from Belarus. She said, “Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been escalating for years. Ukraine has chosen a path that did not satisfy Russia: they want to join NATO and the EU. Russia wants Ukraine to be its ally and retain the influence it had on Ukraine during the Soviet Union times. Putin has tangled Ukraine into his political games with the EU and the US. And because of the Ukrainian’s disobedience to follow Russian orders and a choice to stick to a different path, man-crafted tensions are unraveling in Europe.”
Haishun said that she has family and friends in all three countries. “It’s a difficult time for anyone from the region.”
On Campus Programs
Following the news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the University responded by hosting a teach-in on Feb. 28 to help explain the events from international law, historical and US foreign policy perspectives. The one-hour session was attended by at least 50 faculty, students and staff in person and about 161 on Zoom. Presenters included Katie Laatikainan, acting chair of political science in the College of Arts and Sciences, history professor Michael Christofferson and adjunct professor Jonathan Cristol. Their focus was on international relations and the history between Ukraine and Russia and possible motivations for the invasion. There was also a discussion about the sanctions being placed on Russia both domestically and internationally that will likely impact Russia’s financial holdings overseas, with even Switzerland freezing Russian assets and the United States imposing sanctions on Russia’s international transactions.
Another area discussed was the role of the United Nations in the ongoing conflict. Laatikainen spoke of the peace talks held by the UN Security Council in an attempt to find a peaceful resolution to the situation. Christofferson said that Putin may see the invasion as a last attempt to restore the Soviet Union. Cristol added that while he doesn’t usually comment on administrations, he thought that President Joe Biden has gotten the steps to handling this conflict right so far, including the release of intelligence about what Putin was planning.
In addition to this teach-in, which Laatikainen said is the first one she can remember since 9/11, on March 1 the Interfaith Center and community gathered for reflection, prayer and processing at a vigil for peace in the Interfaith chapel.
How You Can Help Ukraine
As the situation continues to develop, students, faculty and staff have been asking how they can help. Below are organizations that you can work with.
Holy Family Ukrainian Catholic Church in Lindenhurst, NY has put together an emergency relief fund to provide immediate support for people of Ukraine and those who have been forced to leave behind their homes. These donations will aid in providing Ukrainians with essentials like water, food, hygiene kits, clothing and other vital items.
Additionally, Professor Loriann Gross from the Department of Nursing Foundations in Nexus 337 is collecting items such as clothing, socks, gloves, underwear, sneakers, neosporin, gauze, diapers, non-perishables and Tylenol. These items will be delivered to the church and then shipped to Poland.
St. Vladimir Ukrainian Catholic Church in Hempstead, NY is collecting first aid supplies at the Parish Center at 226 Uniondale Avenue.
International Medical Corps is a global nonprofit that provides primary health care and mental health services. Learn more at https://internationalmedicalcorps.org/
Sunflower of Peace is a Boston-based nonprofit currently raising funds to assemble first aid backpacks for paramedics and doctors that are on the front lines. Learn more at https://www.sunflowerofpeace.com/
OutRight Action International is stepping in to ensure the safety for members of the LGBTQ+ community in a time where members are even more marginalized than usual. Learn more at https://outrightinternational.org/
Join a Peace Protest. Around the world, in every major city those of Ukrainian descent and even those who are not have come together in solidarity to show their support for the people of Ukraine fighting to keep their land. When all else fails, we have our voices, and our words can leave a lasting impact.
Read and educate yourself from reliable sources. Share information with those who want to learn more. Talk about what is happening with others. In a time where there is so much disinformation, we must research our sources and ask ourselves where is this coming from?
If you or someone you know needs to talk contact the Student Counseling Center at 516-877-3646 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you or someone you know is in a crisis text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
Contributors to this story include Katie Farkas, Bianca Viana, Maxmillian Robinson and