Utrecht University chooses peace flag over Ukrainian one

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This Friday, Utrecht University will hoist the peace flag in the Academy Building during the celebration of its anniversary, in light of the war in Ukraine. From then on, peace flags will also be flying in the Administration Building and on the UCU campus. In addition, UU has decided to set aside extra money from the Profiling Fund, looking to help students and staff from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. 

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“With these flags, we aim to demonstrate that we’re aware of the terrible situation in Ukraine. Our Rector Henk Kummeling will also focus specifically on this topic in his Anniversary Day speech”, informed Maarten Post, spokesperson for the Executive Board.

UU has deliberately opted for a peace flag as opposed to the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag. Post explains why: “We are shocked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and we stand in full solidarity with students and staff from Ukraine. But, at the same time, we would like to show that we’re aware of the fact that there are other conflict areas in the world and that we should care for all academic communities who have fallen victim to war. We also support students and staff from Russia who are speaking out against the violence at risk of life and limb.”

Additional help for Ukrainians and Russians 
In addition to displaying the peace flags as a sign of solidarity, UU is considering how else to support Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian students and employees. This may take the form of psychological support, mediation for residence permits or visas, and monetary support for those in financial need. The Executive Board has earmarked approximately 300,000 euros for this purpose, coming from the Profiling Fund. For Russian students, who are currently unable to access their own money, help will come in the form of a loan. For Ukrainians, it is a gift. Post: “They may be in need of support because their families had to leave their homes, for example.”

This initiative is unrelated to the crowdfunding campaign launched by the University Fund. Any support provided through this fund will be a gift. The fundraiser is specifically intended for students from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus who find themselves in urgent need.

UU postponed the collection of tuition fees in March, but it is still unclear whether this year’s tuition fees will be reduced for this group, and if so, from when the exemption would be effective and for whom. This is a national topic of discussion. As soon as there are clear national guidelines, UU will follow them.

In cooperation with other universities, UU is looking into further possibilities to help. Partly due to the uncertain situation, the university does not have all the answers yet but it is working hard to find them. Post: “We’re trying to eliminate as many problems as possible and mediate where we can.”

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