The SUNY Oneonta community came together this week to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine and share hope for a peaceful and swift resolution of an escalating war that has sent shockwaves around the world since the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24.
Making Sense of the Unthinkable
Against an increasingly grim backdrop of death, destruction, civilian casualties and a mounting humanitarian, economic and political crisis, faculty members from SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College came together to discuss the events leading up to the conflict and answer questions during an online roundtable event Wednesday evening.
Titled “Making Sense of the Unthinkable: A Roundtable Discussion of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine,” the virtual event included observations and analysis by five faculty members with interdisciplinary expertise on issues related to the war and personal experience in Eastern Europe:
- Amy Forster-Rothbart, Hartwick College associate professor of political science;
- Trevor Fuller, SUNY Oneonta associate professor of geography and environmental sustainability;
- Yuriy Malikov, SUNY Oneonta associate professor of history;
- Matt Murphy, SUNY Oneonta assistant professor of political science; and
- Karl Seeley, Hartwick College professor of economics.
The roundtable was organized by SUNY Oneonta’s Political Science Department and moderated by Brett Heindl, associate professor of political science and department chair.
More than 140 people tuned in for a discussion of topics ranging from what the Russian government seeks to gain through the invasion to the role of Western, Russian and Ukrainian media during the conflict. Audience members asked questions on a variety of topics, including the impact of targeted sanctions, what will happen if the United States sends planes to the region, and whether the war will play a role in the future of the China-Taiwan conflict. Some of the most difficult questions posed were about how and when the war will end, and the long-term ramifications for the region and the world.
Malikov, who was born in Kazakhstan and grew up with grandparents from both Russia and Ukraine, spoke from the heart about his wish for peace as soon as possible. “For me, what’s happening in Ukraine is civil war. Relatives killing relatives. I get emotional about the topic. I don’t see good guys here.”
On Thursday evening, SUNY Oneonta students rallied for peace during a march that was scheduled in conjunction with the roundtable but postponed to the following day because of inclement weather.
"The students at SUNY Oneonta stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine,” said event organizer Katie Murphy, who serves as the Student Association’s chair of external affairs. “The Student Association and the Democracy Matters Club wanted to show our support for the democratically elected government of Ukraine and for the well-being and safety of the innocent children and families who are now refugees. We are all watching, and we wanted to make sure that our voices are heard."
About 40 students gathered in front of the Instructional Resource Center wearing blue and yellow and carrying signs with messages such as “Peace for Ukraine” and “Save Ukraine, Save Humanity.”
They marched to the end of the lower quad and circled back to gather in front of the Milne Library, chanting “No more war! Justice for Ukraine! Hey, hey, ho, ho, Russian troops have got to go!” After the march, SA and Democracy Matters members passed around a petition that will be sent to President Joe Biden in strong support of “a full democracy in Ukraine” and “full democracy here at home by ending voter suppression.”
The march was a moving experience for SUNY Oneonta junior Yaremiya Makarenko, a Ukrainian student who was born in the United States and has family members in Kyiv and western Ukraine. “It’s definitely hard,” said Makarenko, who was draped in a blue and yellow Ukrainian flag for the march. “It kind of seems unreal to me and I kind of feel useless, because no matter how much I do, and how much I post, I can’t do enough.”