One month after invasion, Harvard affiliates rally for Ukraine, scholars concerned | News
A month after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, more than 100 protesters gathered at Harvard Yard on Saturday in support of war-affected Harvard students and scholars.
Students, parents, faculty and other Harvard supporters attended the protest, the second major rally on campus since the war began. Speakers in turn denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin – whose invasion of Ukraine left more than 1,100 civilians dead – and called on the University to do more to help affected Harvard affiliates.
“We are here in the richest and most influential university in the history of the richest and most influential country,” Greg M. Epstein, president of the Harvard Chaplains, told the crowd. “Harvard University must do more to help these students – these students and more. We must.”
University President Lawrence S. Bacow condemned the invasion at a Feb. 28 event hosted by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and the Ukrainian Research Institute.
“Harvard will continue to support members of our community who are facing grave uncertainty in any way we can,” Bacow said. “We will continue to share our knowledge of Ukraine and advance understanding of its culture, history and language.”
Andrew Berry, a lecturer on organismal and evolutionary biology who attended the rally, said he was concerned about the well-being of the students.
“If Ukrainian students or concerned students try to get appointments with university mental health [services]for obvious reasons, and they have to wait and wait and wait – it’s crazy, and it’s such an easy thing to change,” he said in an interview.
University spokesman Jason A. Newton declined to comment on concerns about wait times for counseling and mental health services. Wait times for new patients to receive appointments with clinicians at Harvard reached six weeks last month, according to CAMHS chief Barbara Lewis.
Jane Lytvynenko, a Ukrainian researcher at the Shorenstein Center, said her family had been displaced by the war and her friends were still in danger.
“Today, on a family weekend at Harvard, a lot of people are lucky enough to be able to hug their family, to be able to see their family, to be able to talk to their family,” Lytvynenko said. “A lot of people here don’t have information about their relatives.”
Taisa Kulyk ’22 called on the United States to provide Ukraine with more anti-aircraft weapons and drones.
“The world cannot just witness terrorism on this scale and choose not to stop it,” she said. “It’s been a month. Bombs can be stopped. Planes can be stopped.
But not everyone at the rally supported sending more weapons to Ukraine.
Michael A. Miccioli ’22 silently held two signs behind the speakers that read “Abolish NATO” and “No weapons, no sanctions, no no-fly zone, negotiate!”
In an interview during the rally, Miccioli declined to label his action a counter-protest, noting that he supported many of the organizers’ humanitarian demands.
“I support welcoming as many Ukrainian refugees as they wish, as well as supporting refugees from all over the world,” he said.
Miccioli said he did not support a no-fly zone because it would lead to “a conventional war with another nuclear armed power” which could lead to “World War III and potentially a nuclear holocaust”.
“A no-fly zone – which we see Zelenskyy asking for, which we see some people in Congress asking for – is just plain crazy to me,” he added.
Four of the rally attendees blocked Miccioli’s placards by sitting in front of them, drawing a round of applause. Afterwards, another supporter of the rally snatched the signs from Miccioli’s hands and threw them on the ground.
Ukrainian student Yegor Tverdokhlibov ’25 said he disagreed with NATO’s reluctance to join the fight against Russia.
“I think NATO is afraid of Putin, but I don’t think they should be afraid,” he said.
“I think they are wrong because if we stop Russia now, there will be a hundred fewer wars in the future,” Tverdokhlibov added.
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