Above the entrance to the Sachar building for the university’s International Business School (IBS) are a set of 14 flags. IBS administrators recently made the choice to switch out a Russian flag for a Ukrainian flag, according to an interview with Kathyrn Graddy, Dean of IBS.
The flags chosen to hang outside the IBS building are meant to be representative of the backgrounds of the graduate students of IBS. In addition to representing the student body, Graddy told The Brandeis Hoot that the flags are meant to be representative of all parts of the world. Current flags include India, Taiwan, Israel and China, according to Graddy.
The flags were switched out after Russia began the invasion into Ukraine on Feb. 25, Graddy told The Hoot. The university, historically, is known for being a home for refugees during humanitarian crises, according to Graddy. She hoped that by putting up the Ukrainian flag it would “welcome people fleeing conflict,” not just from Ukraine but other countries currently in conflict as well.
Since there is a “finite number of flags” that can be put up, the Ukrainian flag was put up in place of the Russian flag, Graddy explained.
Graddy explained to The Hoot that IBS has been in contact with Ukrainian alumni trying to support those affected by the invasion. IBS is, “very willing to support [Ukrainians] in what they need,” Graddy told The Hoot and the administration has been working on projects to both support Ukrainian students and alumni.
One project IBS has been working on is called the Peace Scholarship. On April 6, the school officially raised $500k from donors, the money will be used to fund five full scholarships for Ukrainian students and other students fleeing conflict, Graddy explained in the interview. The goal for the Peace Scholarship is to hopefully raise $1M for 10 full scholarships, through the help of more donations. Graddy told The Hoot that university President Ron Liebowitz, has been in full support of the scholarship fund.
According to the university’s official release statement about the Peace Scholarship, the money was raised from two members of the IBS Board of Advisors—co-chair Alan Hassenfeld, a 2020 honorary degree recipient from Brandeis, and board member Barbara Clarke, M.A.’91, a graduate of the school—each donating $250,000. The rest of the donation money is through matching funds, according to the statement.
The Peace Scholarship, according to the release is intended, “to support students who have been displaced from and forced to leave their country due to violent conflict or persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, or membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.” The first students to receive the grant money will be entering IBS in the fall 2022 semester.
The hope for the Peace Scholarship is that it will provide students the opportunity to go off and do well after they graduate. In addition to the Peace Scholarship, students also have access to resources like the Student Access Fund, which was established after the COVID-19 pandemic began back in March 2020. To support alumni, Graddy explained that they have been trying to spread the stories of Ukrainians to show the reality of the situation and how “horrible” it is, Graddy said. In the alumni newsletter, IBS has shared the stories of Ukrainians and how they are responding to the invasion.
One alumni—Oleksandr Pertsovskyi M.A. ’10—is the head of passenger operations at Ukrzaliznytsia, Ukrainian Railway, Graddy told The Hoot. He has been using his position to help transport Uklrainains out of the country; Graddy explained to The Hoot the importance of using one’s position to help civilians in a time of crisis. “Pertsovskyi is using his management and organizational skills to maintain a transit system that has become central to the country’s wartime response,” reads the Alumni Newsletter. In the newsletter, a Business Insider article was linked telling Pertsovskyi’s story. According to the article, Ukraine’s railroad network is extensive and Pertsovskyi has been working to fit as many as six thousand displaced Ukrainians onto a single train. There have also been difficulties transporting civilians out of the country including an unexploded bomb that landed next to the railroad tracks. Pertsovskyi had to make the decision on whether the train should continue forward or not, luckily in this instance according to the article, they had the opportunity to reroute the train to avoid the bomb.
Pertsovskyi explained other difficulties such as the capacity limits when trying to transport people out of the country. The railway instituted a “women and children” first policy, according to the article, this policy left out African and Asian students trying to leave the country. Pertsovskyi also explained in the article how neighboring countries have been helping with refugees, for instance, Poland eased its customs procedures in order to receive more civilians fleeing Ukraine faster.
The university’s alumni page also published the stories of alumni currently in Ukraine and their “harrowing experiences.” The stories shared are from Martin Zhunior, MBA ’11 and Marianna Yakubenko, M.A. ’05, and how their lives have been in Ukraine since the the invasion began.
Editor’s Note: Editor-in-Chief Sasha Skarboviychuk is a Ukrainian student at IBS and did not contribute to the writing or editing of this article.