Student organizations host Q&A event to educate community on crisis in Ukraine


Daily file photo by Ava Mandoli

Kresge Hall. Student organizations co-hosted a Q&A with Political Science Prof. Jordan Gans-Morse Monday evening.

Selena Kuznikov, Reporter

Political Science Prof. Jordan Gans-Morse discussed the political context of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine in a Monday Q&A hosted by Northwestern University College Democrats, NU Political Union and NU for Ukraine.

The student organizations decided to host the event to provide a space for discussion and healthy dialogue, according to Medill junior and College Democrats Director of Public Relations Ben Chasen. Gans-Morse is also the faculty director of the Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies Program.

“Something we’ve been cognizant of is that we have this incredible faculty at Northwestern and sometimes we don’t always connect with them,” Chasen said. “There was nothing more critical in this issue for us than getting people educated because we ourselves, we wanted to be further educated.”

More than 5.5 million Ukrainian refugees have fled the country since Feb. 24, and since the Russian invasion, there have been over two thousand civilian casualties, according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Gans-Morse said he has conducted research in Russia since the early 2000s and has also researched in Ukraine over the past five years, serving as a Fulbright Scholar in the country during the 2016-17 academic year. 

“Russia is not an authoritarian regime where a small group of people consolidate power,” Gans-Morse said. “Putin really can get up and make a decision on if Russia will go into war. Many people were quite surprised that this war began. They really thought Putin was bluffing.”

Russia recently blockaded the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, which served as a catalyst for global supply chain shortages and labor shortages in Ukraine. According to the United Nations, somewhere between 20% and 30% of crop lands planted in the winter would be left unharvested in the upcoming agricultural season because of Russia’s recent attacks. 

The city is currently almost fully under Russian control and much of Mariupol has been destroyed due to bombardment, Reuters reported. Civilians have been partially evacuated, but many are still stuck in the city.  

“The grain is there, but Russia is not allowing anything out,” Gans-Morse said.“This is something to absolutely pay more attention to.” 

Citizens in Mariupol are currently sheltering at Azovstal Iron and Steel Works, a steel plant in the city. However, CNN reported, basic supplies are running low as Ukrainian forces are rushing to evacuate civilians. 

Students formed NU for Ukraine, which co-hosted the event, a day after the war broke out as a call to action, McCormick sophomore and co-Founder Sonya Voloboi said. Through 10 fundraisers in the past few months, it has raised over $18,000 for organizations aiding people in Ukraine, Voloboi said. 

“Our mission is to really promote awareness about the horrors that are happening in Ukraine and I think that we still have a lot of work left to be done,” Voloboi said. “This is a problem that affects us personally, but it’s also a problem that people globally should be paying attention to.”

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