Ukrainian students want more support from UI

By Layli Nazarova, Staff Writer

On Feb. 24, students placed ribbons across the Main Quad in the shape of the Ukrainian flag. (Photo courtesy of @_sam.film / Instagram)

On Feb. 24, the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the Ukrainian Student Association organized a fundraising event on the Main Quad in support of Ukraine.

Members of the organization sold sunflower pins and created a Ukrainian flag out of ribbons right in front of the Illini Union. 

“We decided to create a Ukrainian flag out of blue and yellow ribbons on the quad, 365 ribbons in total, a ribbon for each day since the full-scale invasion,” said Veronica Kozak, vice president of the association.

Despite the visible effort of the Ukrainian Student Association on the Main Quad, there has not been enough campus support since March 2022, members said. 

According to the Ukrainian Student Association, almost all fundraisers and campaigns by small businesses and organizations in support of Ukraine were organized at the beginning of the war, in February and March of 2022. 

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    “There was a lot of support at the beginning of the war last year which dwindled throughout the year,” said Sophia Khudyuk, president of the Ukrainian Student Association, in an email. 

    Among the organizations and groups who participated in fundraising money for Ukraine last year were Joe’s Brewery, Carle Illinois Med and Chabad Jewish Center, in addition to several student rallies on campus. 

    Regarding the lack of campaigns and events to spread awareness about the Russia-Ukraine war, Ukrainian students expressed concern about the lack of resources and support from the University. 

    “I know that the University of Illinois stands with Ukraine and shows a lot of support, which I am grateful for,” said Anastasiia Medvedieva, a member of the association. “However, I think more support should be available for Ukrainian students.”

    Students suggested spreading information and organizing fundraising events to support the community. 

    “I definitely think more information should be spread about events in Ukraine. The Ukrainian RSO is doing a great job at spreading awareness and fundraising,” Medvedieva said. “(But) it would be great if UIUC would share what they are doing so other students would know how they could help and get involved.”

    According to Medvedieva, besides educating students about the war in Ukraine, providing financial and psychological support to the families affected by the war would be helpful for the Ukrainian on-campus community. 

    “(The University should provide) financial aid and funding for Ukrainian students whose families’ income was affected by the war,” Medvedieva said. “Also, emotional support services specifically for people who have to deal with this situation would be a great help.” 

    Although Ukrainian students are grateful for the donations to the cause, they emphasize that at the end of the day, no money can bring lives back. 

    “I was and still am heartbroken watching my home being destroyed. It is the only home I ever had. Seeing the footage from Ukraine on the news, I recognize some streets and places that I would walk almost every day when I lived there,” Medvedieva said. “However, I know that everything will be rebuilt. It is the lives of people that cannot be returned.”

     

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