Russia-Ukraine crisis hits close to home for some at Riverside City College

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(Daesha Gear | Viewpoints)
By Daesha Gear

Despite being thousands of miles away, Riverside City College is feeling the emotional repercussions of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Russian president Vladimir Putin enforced an invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, intending to seize the country’s major cities and overrule its government. 

This attack has resulted in deaths on both sides and has given millions worldwide a secondhand view of the war’s impact.

The ongoing crisis is affecting some at RCC individually. 

Samantha Hernandez, a biology major, is more concerned about the well-being of a close friend in Ukraine.

“They’re a bit on edge, you know? Constant alarm sirens, she could hear certain bombs flashing outside,” Hernandez said. “She sees people heading to bomb shelters, and then were being returned back — I’m not sure, but she’s struggling a little bit.”

Others at RCC are anxious about those caught in between the crossfire.

“A friend of mine in Russia — they’re terrified,” said Andrea Dillon, LGBTQIA+ Association for Student Success and Equity (LASSE) and Ally program coordinator. “They don’t believe in what Putin is doing at all. My life is always impacted when other people are hurting.”

Most individuals, including RCC students, were not initially informed by standard news media outlets when the invasion began.

Instead, secondary sources like Instagram, TikTok and various social media platforms gave users insight to the transpiring events in Ukraine.

“My boss — I came home one day, and she called me, and was like, ‘Did you hear what’s going on in the news?’ And I had no idea,” Snow White, a business administration major, said. “I turned on the news, and TikTok has been telling me it’s World War III.”

RCC students and faculty members became concerned about the state of humanity after hearing the news. 

“It’s crazy because we’re about to be (at) war again, and I’m a religious person, so it reminds me of the end of times, like what God talked about in Revelations,” Jonathan Bedford, an engineering major, said. “There’s a lot of anxiety going on because we don’t know what to expect for the future.”

Ukrainians and others are fleeing the country to take refuge in neighboring European countries. 

Some RCC students believe it’s a courageous decision.

“I feel that would be the smart move because their country is not safe right now,” Jyro Jimenez, a computer science major, said. “But if they want to fight for it, they could because they have the right to do that.”

Most believe the war between Russia and Ukraine is unethical as there should be other alternatives for world leaders.

“There’s always a way that people can work together and come to a common understanding,” Bedford said. “But the way the world is all about greed and being the best, people don’t take into consideration that we can all be one big world, just like God intended it to be.”

Those at RCC believe unity and empathy for others are essential during a crisis, and it creates hope for society. 

However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other world leaders’ approach to the conflict brings uncertainty for the future, according to some students and faculty at RCC.

“I’ve seen people band together already, so it could bring out more compassion and more sympathy,” Hernandez said. “But at the same time, if the war continues, I feel it will bring more destruction, distance and separation.”

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