President Green's Message on Russo-Ukrainian War
Dear GSU Community:
On February 24, 2022, just as we were eagerly anticipating the final phases of the coronavirus pandemic, another world crisis erupted when armed Russian forces invaded Ukraine.
Days after the bombing began, my thoughts turned to another dark period in history, the devastating impact of World War II in this same region of the continent.
Today’s crisis in Eastern Europe is a grim reminder of man’s capacity for inhumanity, violence, destruction, and chaos. While the actual physical combat is occurring away from America’s shores, many of our GSU community members have close family ties to those in Ukraine and/or Russia. Their suffering is our suffering. For me, the atrocities and casualties of war will never be forgotten for these reasons and more.
As an undergraduate student majoring in psychology, I studied at Manchester University in Indiana, the first institution of higher education to offer an undergraduate degree in Peace Studies. Part of its stated mission is to “graduate persons with a critical understanding of the causes and consequences of violence.” Because of this campus-wide focus on peace studies, I later took advantage of an opportunity to travel to Eastern Europe (Prague, Krakow, Warsaw, and Auschwitz) as a mental health ambassador and witnessed the haunting remains of the concentration camps and the vestiges of human devastation. Secondly, Chicago is my home and home to the Ukrainian Village where a large population of Polish-speaking citizens reside, many of whom are descendants of those who migrated to America after WWII.
As a university that celebrates diversity and inclusion at its core, Governors State University cannot be silent in the face of death and destruction for any society. Former President John F. Kennedy once said, “Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the world’s preeminent advocates for world peace and social justice stated that, “We must find new ways to speak for peace and for justice throughout the world, if we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”
In closing, as Governors State prepares our students and community to be responsible citizens to compete in a constantly changing global society and to lead as a model of academic excellence, innovation, diversity and responsible citizenship, let us remember to always respect the rights and dignity of people who fight for freedom, justice, equality, and peace. But first, we must respect and care for ourselves.
These are difficult days. The pandemic drags on. The Russo-Ukrainian War is causing a devastating humanitarian crisis. When confronted with such challenges, particularly over a lengthy time frame, it can be easy to become numb to the world around us. I encourage all of us to take special care of our mental and physical health during this difficult time. I also ask that we do our very best to remain present for one another. Treat one another kindly. Exercise patience. Extend empathy. Together we can make a difference and change the world. Together we must.
Cheryl Green, Ph.D.