Good morning, welcome to Monday, and apparently also a week to celebrate Pet-sitters and Dental assistants, School Social Work and School Breakfasts, Women in Construction and Procrastination… as well as a week to Read an eBook or Return Borrowed Books.
Last week, we turned our attention from the Pandemic Twilight to Putin’s War in Europe, and I summarized some reports emanating from university campuses in Ukraine, the plight of some 76,000 foreign students there, and the unprecedented way that the ground invasion threatens to go nuclear, and move beyond Europe to War in Space and Cyberspace.
As the Russian invasion escalates in brutality on its 12th day, with relentless shelling of major cities and a direct assault on Europe’s largest nuclear reactor, a brief ceasefire failed and another half-hearted attempt has begun today.
Almost the entire world – and almost the entire world of higher ed too – has spoken out in outrage and condemnation of Putin’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine…
As Russian troops advanced into Ukraine, most of the world united in shock and anger. Within days, millions of people worldwide took to the streets in protest…
Public Anti-War Protests
Major European cities saw massive anti-war and pro-Ukraine demonstrations within days of the Russian invasion. More than 100,000 turned out in central Berlin, near the Russian embassy, as the German chancellor reversed decades of foreign policy and vastly increased defense spending. About 80,000 protesters filled the central square of Prague, and crowds turned out waving Ukrainian flags in Madrid, Copenhagen, Rome, Geneva, Strasbourg, Helsinki, Vienna, Lisbon and London. (In many parts of the world, Ukrainian flags have been selling out.) Even some anti-war voices have been speaking out in China, where the government has been comparatively supportive of Putin, and blames the US and NATO for the crisis. In Canada, protests were held outside the Russian embassy in Ottawa, and in major cities from coast to coast, from Victoria, Vancouver and Prince George, to Kingston and Charlottetown. Supporters lined 109 Street in Edmonton, forming a “chain for Ukraine,” while about 700 gathered at the Holodomor Monument in Calgary. (330,000 Albertans claim Ukrainian descent. The monument commemorates Stalin’s genocide in Soviet Ukraine in 1932-33.) Washington Post | National Post | Newsweek
Even Brave Russians Protest
From the first day of the Ukraine War, Russians have been protesting in the streets from Moscow to Siberia, and more than 930,000 have signed a petition condemning the attack. Authorities have banned any form of protest, citing the COVID19 pandemic, and threatened criminal charges and jail time. Riot police cracked down on the rallies, arresting more than 6,000 in the first 4 days. (On Feb 27 alone, police detained 2,710 Russians in 51 cities for anti-war demonstrations. Police reportedly arrested and briefly jailed 5 children, aged 7-11, along with their mothers.) Russian pop stars, journalists, a TV comedian and a footballer openly opposed the war online. Russian parliamentarians have accused them of “nothing short of a betrayal of your own people.” Protests were more subtle but widespread in Belarus. In Georgia, a former soviet republic with strong similarities to Ukraine, almost 30,000 people flooded the streets of Tbilisi. National Post | Time | Reuters | Huffington Post
Hearings in the Hague
The Government of Canada is supporting the International Criminal Court’s investigation into potential Russian war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine. (Former foreign affairs minister – and former uWinnipeg president – Lloyd Axworthy says the move “sends a real shot across the bow” to Putin. Queen’s prof Darryl Robinson points out that the investigation itself can serve as a deterrent in real-time.) Today and tomorrow, the UN’s International Court of Justice in the Hague will be hearing Ukraine’s petition for an injunction to halt Russia’s invasion. Ukraine claims Russia is misusing the 1948 Genocide Convention to falsely justify its military actions, which are genocidal in themselves. An ICJ injunction typically takes 3 weeks, but even if Russia ignores it, the legal ruling will help justify the sanctions being imposed by other nations: “[Putin’s] short game is force; our long game is law.” Globe & Mail (ICC) | Globe & Mail (ICJ)
“We are long past the time where the Kremlin cares about what international courts, institutions or even norms require, unless Putin can harness them in pursuit of his agenda.” – Mark Kersten, senior researcher, uToronto Munk School of Global Affairs
Across Canada and around the world, many rallies and vigils in support of Ukraine have been centred on higher education campuses, often initiated by Ukrainian student societies or informal groups…
Symbols of Support
From the Eiffel Tower to Niagara Falls, world landmarks, cathedrals and sports arenas have been illuminated in blue and yellow in a quiet show of support for the people of Ukraine. Likewise, Brock U illuminated Schmon Tower, and Capilano U lit the Birch Building. The Ukrainian flag was raised at Acadia U, Mount Allison U, and Mount St Vincent U. Mount Allison U lit a sacred fire for Ukraine at its Indigenous Ceremonial Space on Friday.
Vigils for Ukraine
A small group of Dalhousie U staff and students gathered last Wednesday for multifaith Prayers for Peace, “a silent show of resolve for peace in Ukraine.” Mount St Vincent U held a silent vigil Thursday afternoon.
“To gather together at this time is an act of resistance: resistance to the violence, the divisiveness, the indifference. To pray for peace in this moment is an act of resolve: resolve against apathy and fear or despair.” – Robyn Brown-Hewitt, acting coordinator, Dalhousie Multifaith Services
Around the world, PSE campuses have hosted small protest rallies in support of Ukraine, often organized by Ukrainian students worried about family and friends back home. In the US (which hosted 1,700 Ukrainian students and 4,805 Russian ones in 2020-21), early campus demonstrations included Columbia, Stanford,Princeton, MIT, Northeastern, Penn State, uMichigan, West Virginia U, and uWisconsin-Madison. Hundreds gathered at Yale Feb 27th to hear speeches by academics and political leaders. Protesters at Harvard wanted assurances that their university had no ties with Russian oligarchs or businesses. (The official response was “no comment.”)
“My best friend [is] actually making Molotov cocktails in her kitchen right now.” – Alisa Sopova, Ukrainian anthropology PhD student, Princeton U
With even more Ukrainian students here in Canada, rallies have been held on CdnPSE campuses from coast to coast. Last Thursday, rallies were held at Thompson Rivers U, uSaskatchewan and Queen’s U. The uAlbertaUkrainian Students’ Society organized a public rally in support of Ukraine on Feb 28. About 200 people gathered on the Quad with Ukrainian flags and placards condemning Russia’s invasion, and urging federal MPs to take greater action. (The chair of modern languages and cultural studies said her department is working to combat misinformation through conferences, seminars, and research.)
“I’m a historian. I study wars. I usually do not engage in public politics, but I have to — we have to do it now.” – Ekaterina Pravilova, history prof, Princeton U
On increasingly globalized campuses, Ukrainian and Russian students and scholars are all anxious about the conflict unfolding in Europe. An administrator at uWisconsin-Madison explains that “one of the challenges we face is that we host a number of scholars from Russia… many of them feel deeply upset that their country is involved in this horrible, aggressive action.” Many Russians have family connections to Ukraine, and are worried about the futures of both countries. As one Princeton history prof put it, “this is a war not against Ukraine only, but against the Russian people as well.”
Academia seeks peaceful cooperation and the advancement of civilization through science and philosophy, and worldwide, students and scholars have been united in lamenting and protesting the war on Ukraine…
International Ed Speaks Out
Unsurprisingly, organizations devoted to international education have been among the most vocal. The EAIE“strongly condemns Russia’s violent acts of war” and “stands with our colleagues in Ukraine,” but also with “our Russian colleagues who are deeply troubled by the actions of their government.” NAFSA “shares the world’s outrage” over this “shameful act of aggression,” which is “in direct opposition to what NAFSA stands for: a peaceful, just, and globally connected world.” The American Councils for International Education was “shocked and saddened by the Russian attack and the senseless escalation of war in Ukraine.” CBIE “has supported Ukraine’s democratic evolution for over 30 years” and unequivocally supports the rights of Ukrainians “to live in peace and to freely choose their future within their own independent and indivisible country.”
“A bullet never leads to peace, tanks do not pave the way to mutual understanding and missiles will not solve any conflict.” – European Association for International Education
Scholars & Scientists Speak Out
As the journal Nature puts it, “from Mauritius to Latvia, national science academies and groups of researchers have issued statements sharply criticizing the conflict and supporting their Ukrainian colleagues.” (In many cases, the action has taken the form of research sanctions, which I’ll cover in a separate issue shortly.) The G7 National Academies issued a joint statement of solidarity with the scientific community in Ukraine and the Russian scientists speaking out against the war, condemning the “unprovoked attack” as “a blatant violation of international law and the core values of humanity.” Associations of Slavic scholars have been particularly outspoken (Academe compiled at least 26 examples of their statements). On Feb 24, the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies issued a condemnation of “Russia’s military assault on Ukraine and President Putin’s use of historical distortions and cynical lies to justify Russia’s attack on Ukrainian sovereignty.” (The ASEEES also shares a list of 112 other statements by scholarly organizations and academic institutions, from the American Folklore Society and the British Academy to the International Association for the Humanities and London’s Wiener Holocaust Library.) The American Historical Association is particularly outraged by Putin’s “outlandish historical claims” and “twisted mythology” as justification for his attack, and 36 organizations have signed onto the AHA statement. UBC’s department of Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies stands in solidarity with Ukraine, and emphasizes that “violence justified through distortions of truth, historical revisionism, and ideological impulse is unacceptable and goes against our core mission as scholars and educators.”
“The unprovoked attack against Ukraine… is a blatant violation of international law and of core values of humanity… an assault on the fundamental principles of freedom, democracy and self-determination, which provide the basis for academic freedom and opportunities for scientific exchange and cooperation.” – National Academies of the G7 States, joint statement
Students Speak Out
Several European student associations issued a joint statement Feb 24 appealing for “peace, détente and serious pacification,” and asserting “the right to study as a human right.” They “express their solidarity with the Ukrainian people,” and caution against the imposition of martial law that can impede “public gathering, free media and free movement of persons.” They warn of a potentially unprecedented social, humanitarian and migratory crisis due to the “largest armed conflict in Europe since World War II, destroying countless innocent lives for the sake of imperial and revisionist motives.”
Sector Associations Speak Out
Higher ed umbrella groups are normally cautious about taking political stands on behalf of their member institutions, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has catalyzed near-global unanimity. Universities UK has issued several statements since Feb 28 condemning “the appalling decision of the Russian Government to invade Ukraine,” and has been lobbying in support of students and scholars abroad in Russia and Ukraine, as well as those in the UK from those countries. The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities stands for “democracy, for human rights, and for the right to critical enquiry and the pursuit of knowledge,” and urges universities to “stand up for democracy.” Europe’s Academic Cooperation Association “strongly condemns” Russia’s invasion, which “undermines stability in Europe” and “gravely threatens fundamental European values – the rule of law, non-violence, and academic freedom.” The APLU spoke out on behalf of American public universities to “strongly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its continued misinformation campaign to justify its attack on a free, independent, and democratic nation.”
“This war is also an attack on the very basis of academic cooperation and international understanding across political, national, cultural and ideological borders and cleavages.” – Academic Cooperation Association, Brussels
Speaking Out under Threat
It is one thing for academics and scholars to condemn Russia’s aggression from the distant safety of Europe or North America, and quite another to be vocal critics from within Russia itself. A “small but increasingly bold” group of Chinese dissidents are speaking out despite opposition from their government and most of their fellow citizens, including profs from several Chinese universities who have published an open letter sympathizing with the “pain of the Ukrainian people” and urging Russia to stop its attack, and a petition has been signed by hundreds of alumni from top Chinese universities. In Russia, academics are risking arrest to speak out against the war in Ukraine, from signing petitions to marching in the streets – and many risk jeopardizing their careers, recognizing that their future publications might be declined. Overall, the mood at Russian universities is “restraint and silence,” but nonetheless one applied physics prof wants academics worldwide to know that many Russians oppose this conflict: “Far from everyone is to blame for this.” Times Higher Ed | Washington Post
“War with Ukraine is a step to nowhere.” – Petition signed by thousands of Russian researchers
This is already more than enough for your Monday morning (and mine). I’ll be back tomorrow with a sampling of CdnPSE statements of support and condemnation…
Sadly, most of the videos about Ukraine right now are either shocking footage of relentless bombardment, or shaky underground pleas for help from students sheltering in place. But I managed to find one exception for you this morning…
Standing with Ukraine
As a demonstration of solidarity, the Michigan State U Symphony Orchestra recorded the Ukrainian state anthem, “Shche ne vmerla Ukrainy i slava, i volia” (“Glory and Freedom of Ukraine has not yet Perished”). In this 2-min video, we’re treated to a great audio recording while students and staff display handwritten signs like “I stand with Ukraine,” “Love always wins,” “Stop the violence,” and “Spread kindness and humanity.” May it be an uplifting vid to start your week! YouTube
As always, thanks for reading, and I hope your week is off to a smooth start.
Wherever this note finds you, please stay safe and well!
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