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War in Ukraine

Dear Friends, 

The unprovoked attack on the people of Ukraine is devastating; the images and stories are heartbreaking. These acts of aggression are a stark reminder of the assaults on democracy and freedom across the globe. Swarthmore College joins the chorus of voices around the world in condemning these atrocities and calling for an immediate diplomatic and peaceful resolution. 

Our thoughts are with those members of our community who have ties to the area and who may be directly affected by the violence taking place. Staff members in Student Affairs are in touch with our current students from the region to offer support. I also want to remind all of our students, faculty, and staff members who are struggling to cope with these events that College resources are available to support you. Student deans and Residential Communities staff are ready to assist students, and Counseling and Psychological Services provides a range of mental health and emotional support services.

Faculty and staff members may explore the resources offered by our employee assistance program, Carebridge. In addition, each of the College’s medical insurance plans through Independence Blue Cross includes mental health benefits through Magellan. Both Carebridge’s and Magellan’s services are secure and confidential.

European leaders project that this conflict could lead to one of the largest humanitarian crises that Europe has faced in many years, with millions of Ukrainians forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in other countries. Several members of our community have asked what they can do to help. If you are able, please consider donating to an organization that is directly supporting the people of Ukraine, such as UNICEFSave the Children, or the International Rescue Committee. In addition, you may find a number of resources online that can help you choose an organization to support.

As a community of learners, we have both an opportunity and an obligation to engage in intellectual inquiry that leads to a fuller understanding of these events, better positioning us to contribute to a more just and peaceful world. In that spirit, the College will host a virtual discussion this Friday, March 4, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. titled “Russia/Ukraine: Context, History, Present, Future.” The conversation will explore the history of the region as well as diplomacy and civilian agency in the face of violence. 

I am deeply grateful to the members of our community who have agreed to lead this discussion:

  • Sibelan Forrester, Professor of Russian, who will serve as the event moderator
  • Maya Nadkarni, Associate Professor of Anthropology
  • Emily Paddon Rhoads, Associate Professor of Political Science
  • Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon ’12, Doctoral Student in History at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Bob Weinberg, Isaac H. Clothier Professor of History and International Relations

All students, faculty, staff members, alumni, and parents are invited to attend the event, which will be held via Zoom. To do so, you must register in advance. You may send questions in advance or ask them during the event using the chat function.

Though each of us will grapple with this attack on Ukraine and its broader implications in different ways, I hope you find solace in our mission and shared commitment to peace, equity, and social responsibility.


Val Smith