WSU students hold rally in support of Ukraine

Rally began at noon, featured several speakers

Demonstrators+at+the+Rally+for+Ukraine+event+hold+up+posters+in+solidarity+for+the+country%2C+Glenn+Terell+Mall%2C+March+10.

JUSTIN WASHINGTON

Demonstrators at the Rally for Ukraine event hold up posters in solidarity for the country, Glenn Terell Mall, March 10.

JOSIAH PIKE, Evergreen reporter

About 30 people attended a GPSA and ASWSU rally Thursday to show support for Ukraine during Russia’s ongoing invasion.

The rally was peaceful, and the majority of people donated to groups to support Ukraine. Attendants held signs that read  “Stop Putler,” “No more war” and “I stand with Ukraine.”

The rally began around noon with a violin rendition of the Ukrainian national anthem. Afterward, GPSA President Reanne Chilton gave the first speech.

“We chose to host this rally today so that we could lift up the voices of the Ukrainians in our community,” she said.

Chilton said she has seen many examples of people across the world protesting Russia’s invasion.

“One that really stood out to me was an image of an elderly woman simply holding up two pieces of paper to protest the war, and she was dragged away by two riot police,” she said. “That shows us what Putin’s afraid of. Autocrats like Vladimir Putin rely on the complacency and the silence of people around the world.”

A few students reached out to speak at the rally, Chilton said, but organizers decided to have an open microphone so everyone who wanted to speak would have the opportunity.

Chilton said she thinks the most important things students can do to help Ukrainians is to donate to organizations dedicated to helping them, and to call their legislative representatives about the issue as well.

“The thing is, students oftentimes don’t realize how powerful they are,” she said. “Us showing up and demanding of our government that they act, that’s powerful. There are rallies happening around this country, around the world, that makes this clear.”

Taras Nazarov, postdoctoral researcher in WSU’s Institute of Biological Chemistry, said it is most important for students to raise awareness of the issue.

“Awareness can generate compassion, and compassion can heal and help,” Taras said. “This is a genocide not seen since 1939, and it’s a genocide of 40 million people. It’s a genocide that’s bigger than the level of the Second World War.” 

Taras said they agree that students should reach out to their representatives in government to try to get them to support aid to Ukraine.

“Over 2 million people [have been displaced] as of a few days ago because of the war. As of today, there are confirmed cases of rapes and killings. There are confirmed cases of Russian soldiers coming to a town and saying, ‘If you are not raising white flag then we are wiping you out,’” Taras said. “If you think that the Second World War is awful, it’s totally worse, and something like that is happening today, on 2022, and I just want people to know about that. My family in Kyiv is now under air strikes, under cruise missile strikes. Every time I call my mother, or my brother and see their faces, I think this is the last time I’ll see them.”

Taras gave a speech shortly after where they told the rest of the attendants about the large displacement of people as a result of the war.

Horticulture graduate student Evan Stowe decided to come to the protest to help show support for Ukraine and make clear we should stand in solidarity with its people. 

“I’m married to a Ukrainian,” Stowe said. “We are here for each other and hopefully to convey the message that the peace that we enjoy here is a product of no wars. We’re naive to think that an age of empires would ever bring peace here.”

Stowe said his wife has friends and family who still live in Kyiv. He also said he hopes it will show the Ukrainian community in Pullman that people stand with them.

“I hope it’ll bring greater awareness, more access to sources that can help people support the resistance against this Russian war machine,” Stowe said.

Stowe said the most important things people can do to help Ukraine is to combat disinformation and to spread resources helpful to the Ukrainian people.

Postdoctorate Vlad Oles chose to come because he is a Ukrainian and has family currently in Kyiv. Even if he did not, he said he believes it is important for everyone in the free world to stand up to Russia.

“The main reason is to raise awareness for international solidarity, which is right now most important,” Oles said. “More people are becoming aware of the lies the Russian propaganda spreads.”

El Nazarov, sophomore digital technology and culture major, said she came for similar reasons as most others who protested. 

“This war is absolutely unprecedented; it’s unthinkable,” El said. “Additionally, my spouse is Ukrainian, our housemates, as well as many of our community members are as well. So it’s not only outrageous from the standpoint of someone living in a secure country, but also from someone who has a close personal affiliation.”

El said the most important thing a person can do is to try to raise awareness for those currently suffering due to the war.

“I guess maybe it’s not as close to as many people’s lives as it is to many of the people at this rally,” El said. “It’s important for people to figure out how to make their voices heard as well as get in contact with their legislatures.”

The large number of people who attended the rally was encouraging, Nazarov said, because it shows the Pullman community is coming together to stand with Ukraine.

Chilton said the rally was planned after many Ukrainian members of the community said they wanted to have an event to show support for their country.

“What really happened was students and staff and faculty from Ukraine said they wanted to see the administration and student governments show up in full support,” she said. “We offered to host a rally and the Ukrainians were really instrumental in making it happen.”

To learn more about what you can do to help Ukraine, students can visit GPSA’s website