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Wednesday, Dec 6, 2023

Middlebury students, departments respond to Russian invasion of Ukraine

Students fundraise in support of Ukraine outside Ross dining hall.
Students fundraise in support of Ukraine outside Ross dining hall.

Middlebury has been steadfast in its condemnation of Russia’s military assault on Ukraine. The administration, alongside the Student Government Association (SGA), the Russian department and individual student groups, have sent out emails with official statements and information regarding campus-wide talks and fundraising efforts. 

“Russia’s aggression against its democratic neighbor is a violation of international law, made only more egregious by its escalation in the face of international condemnation. I join that condemnation in solidarity with our Middlebury community,” President Laurie Patton wrote in a Feb. 28 email to the community.

The email assured students that student life deans, residential life staff, colleagues in International Student and Scholar Services and many others have been working personally with students from Ukraine, Russia and surrounding states to support them and their families. It also said that the Office of Advancement is reaching out to all alumni with affiliations in the region to offer Middlebury’s support.

The email also shared information about events on campus, most of which have already occured. The Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs sponsored three talks about the violence, one in which there was a roundtable discussion with Middlebury faculty and other scholars who specialize in the region. Professor Michael Kraus also led a discussion, “Explaining Putin’s War on Ukraine,” at a “Hot Topics” event for students only. Professor Will Pyle, the Frederick C. Dirks Professor of International Economics, gave a talk on “Exiting Communism’s Enduring Effect on Russian Public Opinion.” 

Over events besides talks were also scheduled; for example, Wakeful Wednesdays held a gathering for peace, witness to human suffering in the region and cessation of violence in the Middlebury Chapel.

At his weekly politics luncheon, Matt Dickinson, professor of political science, also addressed the invasion of Ukraine.

The email urged students to contact Jeff Knopf, professor and program chair for nonproliferation and terrorism studies, if they were interested in a discussion planned by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Middlebury alumni also contributed to events, as Timothy Frye ’86, Marshall D. Shulman professor of post-Soviet foreign policy at Columbia University, spoke on Russian foreign policy and the invasion of Ukraine at an all-community Zoom event. 

The email also included a link to a recording of a talk from the Thursday prior, “The War over History: Russia and Ukraine on the Brink of Defining their Identities.”

Later that same day, Derek Doucet, dean of students, sent another email, which condemned the defacement of posters related to Ukraine that had been put up. 

Representatives of SGA sent an email to the community, which echoed the administration’s condemnation of Russia’s violence. SGA urged students to remain attuned to the situation and to check in on peers who may be impacted by the violence. They attached several educational resources and infographics put together by Mariia Dzholos ’24, Masha Makutonina ’21.5, Misha Poklad ’22, Andriiana Ilkiv ’24 and Rostyslav Yarovyk ’25. 

Kevin Moss, Jean Thomson Fulton, professor of modern language & literature, sent an email to students who study Russian with a statement from the Middlebury Russian Department. It condemned Russia’s military assault, urged students to attend as many Ukraine related events as possible and included links to help support Ukraine. 

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the weeks of March 14 and March 28, there were tables outside the dining halls with posters, art and sweets to raise awareness and encourage students to donate to organizations, including Nova Ukraine.

The college continues to update students and hold events as Russia’s violence increases. 

Katie Futterman

Katie Futterman '23 (she/her) is a Managing Editor.

Katie previously served as a News Editor and Staff Writer. This past summer, she was a news intern at Seven Days, and she held the same position at the Addison Independent the prior summer. In her free time, she loves to read, write, and bask in the sun.