Queen’s needs to show support for Ukrainian students and staff

As an institution that embraces its global community, Queen’s should make a better effort to support Ukraine

Image by: Jeremy Keyton
Jeremy believes Queen’s should use its resources to better aid Ukrainians in the Queen’s community.

The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has escalated into war. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a tragedy. While those around the world share support for Ukraine, it’s imperative Queen’s demonstrates this same support for Ukrainian staff and students.

As both a university and a community, Queen’s has the resources to support Ukrainian staff and students through this crisis. As a university that prides itself on embracing its place in the “global community,” it’s imperative Queen’s uses these resources.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which started on Feb. 24, has cost the lives of hundreds of Ukrainians and Russians. The war has entered into its second week. It has forced, as of now, one million innocent civilians to leave their homes, fleeing to neighboring European countries. The result is a humanitarian crisis.

These conflicts have also led to thousands of Ukrainian military and civilian casualties.

Ukrainian students, staff, and faculty in the Queen’s and Kingston communities have been left to watch these events transpire helplessly.

Many Queen’s students, staff, and those in the community have family currently in Ukraine, adding even more stress to the current circumstances.

To better support the Ukrainian community at Queen’s, the University needs to provide its community with accessible and concrete information on how to assist Ukrainian students and staff.

On Feb. 28, the Queen’s University Ukrainian Student Association sponsored an event to discuss the war in Ukraine. It was led by Ukrainian students and faculty from Queen’s and St. Lawrence College. Those in attendance included Kingston MP Mark Gerretson, Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson, President of Ukrainian Canadian Congress Alexandra Chyczij, and RMC Professor Lubomyr Luciuk.

Roughly 50 people were in attendance, with an additional 20 watching via Zoom. Queen’s students Taissa Martschenko and Katrina Korotky, members of QUUSA that were key to bringing the event together, led the meeting. Other students in attendance came to show solidarity with Ukraine.

The meeting discussed the crisis and how those in the Kingston community can help Ukrainian students and staff as well as Ukrainians around the world. While conversations were held about starting funds to financially support Ukrainians in Kingston in need, these fundraising campaigns are largely organized by students.

Currently, the University is offering minimal guidance pertaining to how we can aid our fellow students.

While Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane acknowledged the ongoing war in a statement over Twitter, his acknowledgement fell short of offering new and tangible support, merely electing to refer to existing Queen’s resources.

This response isn’t the standard to which the University should be held. Due to the gravity of the situation, I expected a much more proactive response.

Queen’s University is a prestigious school with an endowment of over $1.3 billion as of 2021. Queen’s has the financial ability, connections, and resources to launch fundraising incentives with the help of its vast social media following.

While external resources are helpful, the students and staff that are in need require an outpour of support from the community—not simply a tweet with a phone number to call.

Instead of reactive measures, Queen’s can proactively support its Ukrainian population by using its resources to make these donation initiatives well-known and widespread. This can be done on social media by directing faculties to send emails to students and their families with information on how, when, and where they can help.

Queen’s can also show their support by launching their own fundraising initiatives.

On social media, including Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, Queen’s has a following of over 200,000. The University can help by efficiently utilizing these platforms to spread the word about what we as students and the community can do to help.

There’s only so much we as students can do to circulate these messages and fundraising initiatives on our own. As an incredibly well-connected institution, Queen’s has the abundance of resources, the platform, and the obligation to make these fundraising initiatives well-known.

It should do so.

Jeremy Keyton is a second-year Political Studies and History student.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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