Uncertainty looms over DePaul’s Ukrainian relief plan


DePaul enrolled 100 Ukrainian college students in online courses at no charge to support their continuing education amid the war with Russia in April. The project registered students from Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) in Lviv and six other schools in Ukraine into 43 classes at DePaul. The students involved can attend online lectures through Zoom or take asynchronous courses.

GianMario Besana, associate provost for global engagement and online learning, presented an update on DePaul’s Ukrainian student support project to the DePaul Faculty Council on Wednesday, May 4. Besana informed the Faculty Council that this number has dropped to 90 students. This is primarily due to circumstances surrounding the war like displacement and individual mental health issues. Still, Besana celebrated DePaul’s effort to support these students in crisis.

“It was a really complex puzzle to put together quickly, and the faculty have been really amazing,” Besana said. “[The registration] team was supersonic, and the registrar’s office manually enrolled students in these classes.”

The enrollment of these Ukrainian students in DePaul’s spring quarter provided substantial support during a time of uncertainty. But with the quarter ending in a month and no sign of conflict ending in Ukraine, the question now becomes how much longer will DePaul offer help?

On Wednesday, Faculty Council members asked Besana if there was any plan to keep these students enrolled in classes through DePaul’s summer sessions.

“[Administration] is in talks to prolong [the students’ admission] within the summer,” Besana said. “This becomes more complicated into the fall.”

For Ukrainian students currently experiencing the turmoil of a full-fledged war taking place at their doorstep, having the option to continue their education with DePaul’s help could be beneficial this summer.

“I’m 100 percent sure that it would be a really good idea to propose [continuing the program],” said Marta Haiduchok, a student studying history at UCU.

Haiduchok is currently taking two online classes at DePaul through the support project.

“Even despite the war, it’s good for students to have opportunities to have international communication,” Haiduchok said.

Haiduchok lives in Lviv, which is beginning to experience Russian attacks despite being in the most western part of Ukraine.

“On Tuesday, we had lots of air attacks here, and many rockets hit my city,” she said. “But me and my family are doing fine.”

Haiduchok is taking an online lecture and an asynchronous course at DePaul while also continuing her studies at UCU.

“It’s sometimes hard to deal with time differences in the case of deadlines,” she said. “I always have a tab open in my browser displaying Chicago time.”

At this point, it’s unclear if the 90 Ukrainian students currently enrolled in DePaul classes will be able to take online courses in either of DePaul’s summer sessions, which begin June 14. It’s also unclear what factors will influence the administration’s decision on the matter.

“While DePaul continues to explore ways to support Ukrainian Catholic University, no final decision or plan has been made about extending the program,” said DePaul spokesperson Kristin Claes Mathews in an email to The DePaulia.

In a Newsline article published by DePaul on April 7, Provost Salma Ghanem cited DePaul’s Vincentian mission as the reason for lending a hand to Ukrainian students in crises. The mission asks the question, “What must be done?”

Haiduchok plans on spending time this summer applying to master’s programs and is unsure if she’ll try to take any summer classes herself. Still, she thinks continuing the program could benefit fellow Ukrainian students whose lives and education have been disrupted by the war.

“It absolutely [would benefit] Ukrainian students,” Haiduchok said. “It’s great to have other options [in this] situation.”