Message from the Faculty of Social Studies on Ukraine

10 Mar 2022

Dear Students,

We hope this email finds you well as spring is starting in Brno. The events of the last few weeks surrounding the brutal invasion of Ukraine by Russia has been hitting our diverse community in different ways, however it is important to emphasize that all of us here in Brno are as safe as if we were in Berlin, Milan, or Paris. While the ongoing Russian assault on Ukraine is horrifying and scary, the safety in Brno is unchanged from before.

Thus far, the university has been clear with our support to Ukraine and its people. However, it is also necessary for us to recognize the toll that the war is having on all students. We understand that our international student community will have a unique relationship to what is going on. Each of our students have different lived experiences, and thus news of war, refugee needs, and economic impacts can mean something different to each of us. Some of you may come from countries that have experienced war, some may have families who have escaped similar situations, and some may just have watched such events from afar in the past without expecting to see the effects so close. However, we want to emphasize that the main impact we expect to see around Brno and in the whole country is to see a larger Ukrainian population,trying to find a safe haven and refuge from atrocities caused by invading Russian troops. All refugees are very welcome. Ukrainians made up the largest expat group in the Czech Republic in the last census, and thus it makes sense for new arrivals to travel where they have a community.

While the Czech Republic as a nation is reacting strongly, due to our past history with invasions in 1938 by Hitler and 1968 by the Soviet Union, our concern now is for Ukraine. Our membership in both NATO and the European Union provides assurances and supports that we did not have in 1938 or 1968 – and the experience of Ukraine shows how important these memberships are, and how international cooperation is necessary. Additionally, it is important to stress the historical differences between Ukraine and the Czech Republic. Under communism, Czechoslovakia was a ‘satellite state of the Soviet Union’ but was never part of the Soviet Union. Part of Putin’s claim – which we cannot stress enough is a false claim on Ukraine – is that it was once part of Russia and should be so again.We want to emphasize this distinction because this claim can never be said of the Czech Republic, and because we know that your families must be worried and may have a different understanding of this history, it is important to share this with them.

The faculty and university has felt pride at the support of all students, including our international ones, that has been shown to Ukraine. We hope that in these days, you see that largely Brno is the same as a few weeks ago. However, as challenges arise for our international community we are here to help. Already we are working on finding a way to help our students renew their visas – an impact from the current situation that will only be felt by our non-EU students. This is just an example of one way the faculty and university are aware of that the war will affect students in different ways and will do our upmost to support you.

Lastly, it is our responsibility to share some important information related to studies. If you do decide for one reason or another that you want to go home, you can. However, the faculty is not considering switching to online learning, and you would be required to interrupt your studies; this also means that there would not be a tuition refund. Additionally, the Ministry of the Interior is informed immediately about decisions to interrupt studies, and will cancel your student visa, which means you would need to start the process over from scratch if you wish to return. This is a choice ultimately up to each student, but we hope that you find that Brno is your home.

We will conclude with reemphasizing that the Czech Republic is far from the Russian war against Ukraine, even though on a map we may look close. We hope that you will continue to join us in classes and at events over the semester, and if the need arises reach out to us with any concerns so we can best support you.

Wishing you a fruitful semester,

Petr Suchý, vice-dean for internationalization on behalf of the whole FSS leadership

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