Crisis in Ukraine: The Effects of War on Dickinson

Dickinson students in Moscow apart of the Dickinson-in-Moscow study abroad program (via Dickinson College)

Dickinson students in Moscow apart of the Dickinson-in-Moscow study abroad program (via Dickinson College)

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine well underway, Dickinson faces the effects of the war within the student body. The blowback will be felt around campus where there are many Russian majors and professors.  

“It has been emotionally draining,” said Elizabeth Price, ‘22, a Russian and History major. As a Russian major, Price said how she was “worried and apprehensive.” After attending the Clarke Forum panel Crisis Over Ukraine: Causes and Consequences, on Feb 10, many students had been led to believe that an invasion was unlikely, Price believed this too.

Despite the optimism from the professors on the panel, President Vladimir Putin initiated his invasion on Feb 24.  In the eyes of Elena Duzs, Associate Professor of Russian at Dickinson, the immediate consequences will be grave for the college’s Russian study-abroad program, Dickinson in Moscow, which she believes will “most likely be canceled”. Unfortunately, the student body at Dickinson will experience these consequences. “Fewer students will choose Russian as a language of study, and fewer will sign up for the Russian major and minor,” Duzs worries.

Duzs stressed that politics should not be involved when studying cultural or educational exchange. “Back in the Cold War times, there were always American students studying in the Soviet Union, and generally the level of Russian programs in the US was strong.” With the program most likely being canceled, this will be the third time in the last four years it has been canceled. 

Duzs fears that “our graduates (Dickinsonians) will not have adequate Russian and will understand Russia less and less.” Despite the program’s continuation during the Cold War, it appears that the invasion of Ukraine will halt the program for the time-being.  

Dickinson’s students from Russia, however, are experiencing the unfolding of the conflict in a separate way. Ella Lavina ‘22 says “People address me to express their sorrow about the situation and oftentimes say that I can expect their support, which is amazing.” 

Lavina has also expressed the importance of people seeing her, a citizen of Russia, as separate from the government. “They understand that as a citizen of the country I will suffer greatly for what is happening now and they are very sorry about that, but still, they have their opinion about the situation and of course they are against my country now.”