The University of Cambridge’s collegiate community has watched with mounting outrage the events unfolding in the wake of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine. Joining with thousands of members of the Cambridge community, I strongly condemn this unprovoked act of war, and affirm democratic Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.
Our thoughts are with all those Ukrainian citizens now in harm’s way, and with those having to flee their homes to ensure their safety and that of their families. Our thoughts are also with those Russian citizens taking a brave stand against the war, often at great personal risk.
As people devoted to the provision and pursuit of higher education, we are particularly concerned about the safety and wellbeing of colleagues in Ukraine’s universities and colleges, and about the disastrous effect that this military action will have on the lives of thousands of displaced students and scholars.
Ongoing events will be especially worrying to our Ukrainian and Russian students and colleagues with families and friends now directly caught up in armed conflict. The University’s staff and student counselling services can be contacted by those in need of counselling support – please refer to the student and staff counselling service websites. Once again I ask that members of staff with concerns talk to their Heads of Department, as well as Departmental Wellbeing Advocates, for advice on available support services. Colleges have been advising their staff and students over the past few days, and students in need of support are encouraged to speak to College tutors.
It has been heartening to see our community come together to express concern and support at vigils, marches and events held across Cambridge. As we all try to understand the origins and the ramifications of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, some of our own Cambridge colleagues are sharing their expertise – in this piece, Dr Rory Finnin, Associate Professor of Ukrainian Studies, argues for the need for solidarity and better historical understanding of the region.
People are asking what they, as individuals – and what Cambridge, as a collegiate university – can do to help at this time of deep crisis. The University has identified three initiatives to which people may wish to consider donating. The first is the Council of At-Risk Academics (CARA). We will be working with CARA to identify opportunities to assist academics threatened in the current conflict. Another is the British Red Cross Ukraine Appeal. Finally, the UNHCR will provide help to Ukrainians displaced as a result of the invasion. The Ukrainian Institute, in London, has listed additional suggestions for people wishing to support Ukraine and Ukrainians.
The University will be inviting alumni to contribute to a hardship fund for students affected by this reckless war. We will soon be announcing details of a vigil to be held in Senate House Yard. In the meantime, the University and Colleges will continue to pursue ways of supporting our students and colleagues, as well as supporting Ukrainian and Russian students and scholars put at risk by this act of aggression.
Prof Stephen J Toope