From the March-April 2022 issue of News & Letters
by Buddy Bell
In late February and thereafter, college students around the U.S. rallied against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At West Virginia University in Morgantown, Ukrainian graduate student Krystyna Pelchar witnessed an outpouring of support when she held an impromptu protest: “I’m happy to be in such a place where people are attentive and they understand that what’s happening in Ukraine is not just Ukraine’s problem.” Harvard sophomore Maksim Bahdanovich was part of massive protests of a rigged 2020 election in Belarus before coming to the U.S. via Ukraine and then co-organizing the rally against the invasion on his Massachusetts campus: “[Ukraine] has become a safe haven for me and thousands of other Belarusians who were fleeing, and now it’s no longer safe.” Stanford sophomore Catarina Buchatskiy said: “Putin is not just targeting Ukraine’s borders and the geographical territory but Ukraine’s very history and culture….We have our own conception and our own sovereignty.” Stanford freshman Andrii Torchylo: “Why is this happening to me? Why is this happening to my family and every single Ukrainian? Because we chose to be a democratic nation….This is not just a war against Ukraine.”
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A rally by college students picketed the office of Illinois Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley on March 4 to protest an $8,000 campaign contribution from weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin. The protesters demanded he sign a pledge to accept no further campaign funds from weapons manufacturers and that he cosponsor a War Powers Resolution to cut off military aid to Saudi Arabia. Samir Muhammad spoke for the DePaul University chapter of Chicago Area Peace Action: “While people in Yemen are starving and having their lives taken, Quigley gets to sit in his office and benefit from the companies that are helping carry out such a terrible and devastating crisis….There is no place for money in politics, especially money that comes from the ones who profit off of war, violence, and destruction.” Meanwhile, the Illinois Democratic Party seems to have helped Quigley avoid a progressive primary challenge from young immigrant community leader Hoan Huynh, whose home was recently drawn out of the 5th district in the state’s new congressional map.