Humanitarian Student Union Launches Ukrainian Relief Fundraiser


Derks stresses the importance of students being aware of current events. (Courtesy of Pia Fischetti/The Fordham Ram)

Sebastian Diaz, Features Editor

On March 8, Fordham’s Humanitarian Student Union (HSU) launched its fundraising campaign in support of Ukraine as Ukrainian citizens continue to endure the Russian-Ukraine conflict. The fundraiser, running between March 8 and April 1, helps provide funds to two different humanitarian organizations: Direct Relief and People in Need.

HSU President Grace Derks, FCRH ’22, spoke with The Fordham Ram about why HSU decided to launch a campaign to support the people of Ukraine.

“HSU saw a gap in Fordham’s community response to the Ukraine crisis,” said Derks. “We saw that there was not really an admin response or a student body response, and as a group of humanitarians, we thought it was within our club’s mission to organize some sort of movement to support Ukrainians in this time of peril.”

Moved to create the direct action they believed was missing, HSU looked to the importance of humanitarianism and why they sought to shoulder the responsibility of providing aid to a foreign country.

As Derks stated, “the crisis that is forcing people out of their livelihoods in Ukraine is caused by a few political leaders who are using their power to cause harm. No Ukrainian asked to be evicted from their home or have their day to day lives interrupted, or lose family and friends. As Fordham students who are ‘men and women for others,’ HSU is acting in response to care for the others on our planet.”

When deliberating on which groups, charities and funds to support, HSU ultimately decided that Direct Relief and People in Need would be the best organizations for the community to provide financial assistance to affected regions.

“We looked for smaller organizations that have boots on the ground in Ukraine,” Derks said. “As a humanitarian studies major myself, I believe that the best aid is given by non-profits and people who are familiar with the context that the crisis is happening in and with people that will be in need of aid. We made sure to check the legitimacy of both organizations as well as feedback on them by others in the humanitarian sector.”
The fundraiser aims to reach two distinct goals.

Aside from the clear goal of helping the Ukrainian people who are currently under duress, experiencing intense conflicts and emigrating from their homes in order to avoid that conflict, HSU wants the fundraiser to also spread general awareness about the conflict and horrors of war in Ukraine to the community.

HSU wants to show college students that, even though they exist thousands of miles away, there are still ways that they can help the situation.

Derks explained: “While college students may not have a lot of monetary resources, we have voices and ideas. Youth can have an influence in the global context despite what some may say. Whether it is a financial donation, volunteering, protesting or another method, you can have some sort of impact in the lives of others. I promise that your time or money is well worth it to improve the quality of someone else’s life.”

As it currently stands, the fundraising campaign has not met the targeted goal, raising insufficient funds. However, beyond providing financial support, there are still other ways for Fordham students to help Ukraine.

“Research,” said Derks. “Take in your media from multiple perspectives and multiple sources as to try to avoid as much of a bias as possible. Try to understand as much of the context for the crisis as possible in order to increase your understanding of the environment that the crisis is occurring in. Look into local Ukrainian churches or diaspora organizations as sources of other avenues to help the Ukrainian community.” She added, “I urge you to use your voice, your wallet or your time if possible to try to help others who are in a position where their lives are being upended.”

The student union’s fundraising page directly cites People in Need’s statement: “Intense fighting continues across major cities in Ukraine … Damage to civilian infrastructure has left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity or water.

Hundreds of homes have been damaged or destroyed, while bridges and roads damaged by shelling have left communities cut off from essential support.”

The fundraiser was originally supposed to end on March 28. But, just three days before that deadline, HSU announced via Instagram that the fundraiser would be extended until April 1. You can donate to HSU’s fundraiser at the link in the HSU’s Instagram bio.

The Humanitarian Student Union’s Instagram page can be found at @fordhamhsu.