Thumbnail courtesy of Arden Anderson / North by Northwestern

At Wednesday's ASG Senate meeting, Political Union Senator and Weinberg third-year Edward Dowd brought a new resolution to the floor. Titled “Resolution for Northwestern University to reaffirm its commitment to Ukraine’s Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity,” it calls upon Northwestern to restate its dedication to supporting Ukraine and Ukrainian students and publicly condemn war crimes committed by the Russian government. The resolution brought up examples of online misinformation and how it may influence students' perceptions of the conflict to urge the University in aiding the visibility of Ukrainians.

Many Ukrainian students live in an in-between: International students, those with family in Ukraine and even those who watch their country targeted from the safety of their TV.

“Ukraine is in a similar situation to what Estonia was during the Second World War,” Estonian student Dowd said on why he wrote the legislation. “One of the things that was put into place was the Geneva Convention of 1949, to say that this was never going to happen to anybody else again. And obviously, now it’s happening to Ukrainians.”

The Soviet Union invaded Estonia in 1940 following a secret non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany in which they divided up Eastern European territory to seize. The Geneva Convention that took place after the war’s conclusion outlines the proper treatment of prisoners of war and what is considered a war crime.

The Russo-Ukrainian War is deeply rooted in history and is personal for many students. Northwestern’s Ukrainian Club formed in February 2022 in the wake of escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine. It offers a safe and active space for their members to advocate for peace and sovereignty in Ukraine.

This is part of why Dowd’s legislation has been strongly supported by the Ukrainian club. Julian Zea, The Ukrainian Club representative for ASG and Weinberg third-year, said the club expresses their commitment to raising awareness for the war by hosting affinity spaces and selling a variety of items reminiscent of home.

“We have done a lot of events,” Zea said. “Many of them fundraisers for some level of aid in Ukraine.”

Over the past year, The Ukrainian club has raised over $5,000 dollars and donated that money to organizations such as Hospitallers Medical Battalion (HMB) and Mriya. HMB consists of volunteer medical workers who provide aid to Ukrainian soldiers and help evacuate them from warzones. Mriya is a non-profit that, according to their website, “delivers medicines and humanitarian aid to hospitals and territorial communities in Ukraine.”

The club has done this without any funding from ASG or the Student Activities Assistance Fund (SAAF). Instead, they’ve been supported through a grant from Slavic Department. However, at Wednesday’s Senate meeting, The Ukrainian Club received its first ASG funding of $750 to stipend transportation to rallies in the Chicago area during the 2023-2024 academic year.

It was a successful night for the club as their resolution  passed by a majority vote. According to Zea, they hope the legislation will encourage the University to be more vocal and active in the future in supporting the war and impacted students.

“Students will appreciate knowing that the University is supporting their country and their freedom,” Zea said.