Maryville College’s United Response to the War in Ukraine

On February 24, 2022, the day Putin’s Russia invaded the sovereign country of Ukraine, President Dr. Bryan Coker sent an email to students and staff with the message, “We are all connected.” Dr. Coker soberly emphasized the severity of the war, calling it “a military offensive which is unlike anything the world has seen in 80 years.” He also reminded students of support services, such as the Counseling Center and Timely care, as well as Campus Ministry. 

Included in his email was the heartbreaking announcement that three of Maryville College’s own students – who currently serve in the National Guard and whose names are being withheld for personal privacy and operational security – were being deployed. More recent developments reveal their deployments have now been postponed until 2023. 

In a sense, this must come as a huge relief for these students, as they are mid-semester and were called upon without warning. However, 2023 is not far off, and it is still an ever-present reality that those orders could change at any time. Their willingness to be deployed at a moment’s notice is nothing short of heroic sacrifice, and they deserve our utmost respect and gratitude. 

Director of Military Outreach and Transfer Recruiting, Dave Daniels, stated when he was informed of the students’ deployment, he immediately reached out to the Vice President and Dean of Students, Dr. Dan Klingensmith, to ensure that the students’ academic disruption would be handled as smoothly as possible. Daniels served in the U.S. Navy for 15 years and earned his degree in criminal justice from Maryville College. 

When asked what students could do to help their classmates who are veterans, in the National Guard, or with the reserves, Daniels stated that situational awareness in the classroom is too often lacking. Voiced opinions are a freedom, says Daniels, a freedom guaranteed by the sacrifice of servicemembers. Abrasive comments said in classrooms without a second thought for those who have experienced combat can have real, negative effects. Of course, students may always share their opinions, but should be conscious of their rhetoric in the classroom. 

In further efforts to assist students with understanding the war in Ukraine, a collection of professors from Maryville College’s Division of the Humanities and the Division of Social Sciences, along with the Center for Global Engagement, hosted a roundtable discussion titled “Ukraine in Context.” The panel was held in Lawson Auditorium on Friday, March 4th at 3:30.

Each panelist, drawing on their area of expertise, had five minutes to present a mini-lecture. They offered historical and contemporary information on what has contributed to, and may result from, the war in Ukraine. 

After the initial presentation, the professors opened the floor to questions and tried to answer as many as possible. Organized only eight days after Russia’s initial invasion, this was an incredible feat on their part, as well as the Humanities’ own Mrs. Wendy Spector who, as Dr. Sherman said quite perfectly, “makes all things good.” 

These are frightening times for people all over the world. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine brings in, or brings back, an era of uncertainty. It is hard to know if the decisions being made at the geo-political scale, or even the national scale, are the right ones. But Maryville College has acted with commendable unity.

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