Russia's unprovoked attack on Ukraine is horrific on any number of levels. Rather than add my words to what has already been said eloquently by others, I instead share a quote from Bret Stephens opinion piece in yesterday's New York Times to capture why our thoughts for those directly affected by the invasion and those in our community who have connections to the region ought to be linked, wherever possible, to whatever concrete actions can be taken in our personal and institutional spheres of influence to constructively engage this profound transgression.
…the main point is this: Vladimir Putin's goal in Ukraine isn't merely to seize territory for Russia, even if he wouldn't mind swallowing an additional chunk of it. He wants to crush its spirit.
The threat a free Ukraine poses to his regime isn't, and never will be, military. It's political. It's the thought that if democracy, the rule of law and civil rights can take root in Kyiv, they might soon take root in Moscow, too, bringing an end to his rule and accountability for his crimes. A Ukraine that's a thriving member of the European Union would pose an even graver threat to Putin's grip than would Ukrainian membership in NATO.
But at stake in this war is more than the fate of Ukraine. Putin is a creature of the Soviet system and personifies its values: contempt for truth, contempt for the individual, contempt for international norms, the unprincipled pursuit of unbridled power.
These values have no cultural or geographic limit. If Putin can impose them in Ukraine … then we will be thrust into a world in which, in the language of Thucydides, "the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must."
While the conflict currently does not intersect directly with Arcadia Abroad programs, our staff overseas have been encouraging students to follow the news to stay abreast of what is occurring in Eastern Europe, as well as, whenever possible, taking the opportunity to bring an educational lens to bear to help them understand the geopolitical context of the invasion, as this will no doubt have a significant impact on the world they will be entering after their collegiate experience.
In more practical terms, we have also shared resources, such as providing access to International SOS's security analysis database, to help them inform their personal choices. We have emphasized to our students the need to remain vigilant and follow guidance received from Arcadia, their home institutions, and host universities, and to avoid travel to Eastern Europe. Arcadia continues to advise all students to register their study abroad location and any personal travel plans with the Department of State's smart traveler enrollment program, STEP.
Finally, we've reminded students of the mental health resources that are available through International SOS and fully covered by our insurance if they experience distress regarding the evolving situation. Most host institutions abroad have also shared messages regarding the conflict and campus services which students may access.
We continue to monitor the situation closely and communicate with students. While there is no indication that we will need to make adjustments to the delivery of our programs, the last two years have taught us to be prepared for anything.
Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.
Andrew Law, Ph.D.
Dean & Executive Director
Arcadia Abroad, Arcadia University