Cornell University, we need a teach-in for Ukraine

Cornell University, we need a teach-in for Ukraine

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Petition to
Members of the Cornell community

Why this petition matters

Started by Willow Martin

An open letter to the President, Provost, and Director of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies

Dear President Pollack, Provost Kotlikoff, and Professor Riedl,

We are calling upon Cornell University to host a 1-day teach-in to address the war in Ukraine. It would take place ideally during the workweek, and all university classes would be suspended so that all students have the opportunity to attend educational events. We need lectures and discourse to provide us with the necessary foundational knowledge and refine our understanding of what is at stake in the world in this current conflict. While the overtly unequal responses to this refugee crisis as compared to that of Iraqis, Syrians, the Rohingya, etc. is significant, this cannot be a reason that we do not address this issue and our lack of knowledge. 

On Friday, March 4th, Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies organized a panel entitled “Russia’s War on Ukraine: A New Attack on Peace, Rights, and Sovereignty,” in which scholars and professors expounded the nature of the conflict. While this was a step in the right direction on behalf of the university, the brevity of the event and the lack of Ukrainian scholars present for the discussion indicates we need a more comprehensive approach to educating the Cornell community about the war. 

We urge Cornell University to hold a teach-in to address the emergent situation in Ukraine, which jeopardizes the lives of people around the world; already, thousands of civilian lives have been lost. The student body wants and needs to be educated about the present menacing reality: Putin’s unprovoked invasion, NATO’s positioning in the conflict, the repression of Russian dissent, the explicit threat of nuclear war. 

Cornell has organized many teach-ins in the past, and in fact, during the Vietnam war era, the university was a pioneer in this model of public education. In 2001, Cornell conducted a series of teach-ins following the terrorist attack on the twin towers on 9/11. It is in step with this institution’s history to rekindle this tradition, and it is the moral imperative of a major research university to step up and provide detailed, comprehensive education in a moment of rapidly developing global crisis. We have a responsibility as a community to orient ourselves in fact and act accordingly. With knowledge and empathy in the forefront, we as a community take a stand against war and nuclear proliferation.

Let us not go on turning our attention away from the escalating crisis. We should not—cannot fool ourselves into believing that we are isolated from this threat. The world is at stake; it is not business as usual.

We the undersigned call upon the university to take this unprecedented step as a global center of higher education.


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