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Marshall University Stands In Solidarity With Ukraine

Marshall Ukraine Vigil
David Adkins
/
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Crowd gathered for Ukraine vigil

Last week, Marshall faculty and students joined for a vigil at the Memorial Fountain Plaza to demonstrate solidarity with the country of Ukraine.

Marshall University President Brad Smith spoke at the vigil. He said that speaking up reflects the university’s values. Smith said, “our creed says that we are a just community and what's happening right now in Ukraine is not just. What’s happening right now in Ukraine is not just and we will not stand in silence.”

Smith referenced Martin Luther King Jr., noting that, “in the end, we will not remember the worlds of our enemies. We will remember the silence of our friends.”

Smith at Ukraine Vigil
David Adkins
/
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Marshall University President Brad Smith speaking at Ukraine vigil

Many students who attended the vigil are connected to Ukrainian friends and family through the internet.

Maize Palmer, a freshman, said he’s made close friends with many eastern Europeans through the prevalence of online gaming.

“I talk to them reliably once or twice a day and I said they are worried about this whole situation,” Palmer said. “It seems terrifyingly close even though I know it’s 2,000 miles away.”

“I felt like today was really poignant. I've been looking at the news very recently,” added Ella Hiles, a freshman with family ties to Russia. “I just hope and pray that Ukraine wins, and that everyone will be okay.”

20220302_170613.jpg
David Adkins
/
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Group of Marshall students gather with candles and Ukraine pins

Before the vigil, four Marshall University educators joined a virtual panel to discuss Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

All four panelists have friends and family in Ukraine and Russia, and they all shared their disdain for the actions taken by the Russian government.

Associate Professor of History Anara Tabyshalieva was born in the former Soviet Union. She’s an expert on history of war, gender issues, conflict management, and Eastern European and Central Asian history. Tabyshalieva has conducted research projects for the United Nations Development Program, United Nations University, and the Wilson Center.

“It's easy to deal with smaller countries, but Ukraine was too independent,” Tabyshalieva said. She added that the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, sees Ukraine’s democracy as a threat. “He would like to re-establish these colonies and establish the post-Soviet countries as Russian satellites.“

“When we talk about Ukraine, we imply not only Ukraine's but also Russians, Tatars, Jews, Armenians and so all of them actually are now involved in this war,” Tabyshalieva said, adding that it’s a misconception to view Russia and Ukraine as ethnically homogenous.

ukraineethnicgroups.jpg
David Adkins
/
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Anara Tabyshalieva discussing the ethnic groups of Ukraine

Professor of Biological Science Victor Fet was born in Ukraine in 1955 and educated in Russia. He said that he’s stayed in contact with friends in both countries. He quoted what he told his friends, saying proudly in Russian, “‘Slava Ukraine (Слава Украине), Glory to Ukraine. Geroyam Slava (Слава героям), Glory to the heroes.’”

“The tides are turning. Russian armies have stalled; Blitzkrieg didn’t work,” Fet said, “They're bombing as if by a Nazi textbook. They're bombing the same sites. [...] Repeat verbatim Hitler’s speeches.”

Panel
David Adkins
/
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
The panel moderator and Marshall dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Robert Bookwalter (top left), Anara Tabyshalieva (top right), Stefan Schöberlein (bottom left), Kateryna Schray (bottom center), and Victor Fet (bottom right).

Kateryna Schray is the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants and founding director of the Marshall University Center for Student Success.

“I was speaking with a friend last night, she says ‘that the people there are exhausted.’ Their bodies are in constant stress, and this includes mothers with very young children,” Schray said. “She describes people saying that they're ‘living not by the day anymore, but by the hour.’”

Schray urged the audience to pray for Ukrainians, consider donating, and to keep their support visible. “You can't take away these people's sorrow but you can make our sorrow less lonely and it does help,” she said.

Russia’s actions have been met with global condemnation and economic sanctions. According to the Associated Press, more than 1.5 Ukrainians have fled the country since Russia’s invasion started Feb. 24.


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