POV: ‘Sad to see,’ Utica students react to the Russia/Ukraine conflict


Alex Cooper

To show solidarity and support for Ukraine, Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri has directed the Ukrainian flag to fly at three-quarter staff at Utica City Hall. Photo from Daily Sentinel’s Alex Cooper.

Jacob Anweiler, Contributing Writer

On Feb. 24, Russia invaded Ukraine in what the world views as an act of aggression. The two nations have a long and complicated history, where the war being broadcasted today is essentially a continuation of the conflict from 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea and supported pro-Russian movements in the Donbas region. 

Today, Russia and Ukraine are involved in a full-on war. The largest conflict seen in Europe since the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s, while the current conflict has displaced the most refugees seen since World War II in Europe, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.

Living in a world of information, it’s hard to not hear, see or notice atrocities. With the help of the internet and social media people across the world along with those in the local community have rallied behind Ukraine, forming their own opinions on the matter.

Utica University students have witnessed the events unfold through the screens of their electronic devices.

“I think the war crimes going on in Ukraine now are very sad to see,” said Dan Appley, a graduate student. “Even in America, we are able to see terrible videos and pictures of the damage that has already been done.”

What Appley said rings true to almost everyone who supports Ukraine. Since the Vietnam War, the public has gradually gained more access to information about wars and conflicts. Seeing first-hand the rubble of buildings, the destruction of human life, and the everyday struggles civilians in warzones must deal with while their home is under attack.

While many form opinions, others seek ways on how to help or what ways the nations of the world can help. 

Kaitlin Mahardy, another graduate student, reflected on the stunning refugee numbers as people flee their homes and lives to escape Russia’s wrath and called the attack on Ukraine devastating. 

“The United States and other countries should welcome refugees as needed,” Mahardy said. “Especially Utica, where we have a thriving refugee population.” 

Mahardy signaled a call to action of where help can be provided. This is easier said than done, however, a potential start could be offering a haven to the people who have been displaced. The Utica area has a history of being a melting pot for immigrants and refugees. For those who lost their homes and livelihood, places like Utica around the world can offer new opportunities to those who need it.

However, conflicts like what we see in Russia and Ukraine are messy, and won’t resolve easily or quickly. Being in the United States where we’re an ocean and continent away from the fighting, many feel powerless in making a difference.

Zac Taylor, a senior at Utica University, understands the conflict and hopes it resolves quickly. 

“From what I know of the conflict, I feel a little helpless in my current situation to do anything that would be worthwhile to help,” Taylor said. “I hope it resolves soon, but I don’t know if that will happen.”

With the war so far from our borders, it’s difficult to answer this when many Americans aren’t directly affected by the events unfolding, leaving this decision up to our elected leaders to make the right call.