Kim Bepler, a Fordham trustee fellow, is providing a dollar-for-dollar match for all donations to the new Fordham Ukraine Crisis Student Support Fund, up to $50,000. The fund will be used for essential needs such as meals, housing, emergency health care, travel funding, tuition assistance, and more.
It is meant to help roughly a dozen Fordham students from the two countries whose finances, and lives, may have been disrupted because of the conflict. A few of those students have already sought help from the University, and more are expected to do so.
Bepler said she offered the funding as a way to help Fordham students who have lost not only their funding sources but also their sense of certainty and stability.
“I feel strongly about the situation, especially [because of]the students and how vulnerable they must feel when they have no access to their family and they don’t know what’s going to happen to them next,” she said. “It’s not fair.”
The war has caused anguish and a sense of helplessness for some Fordham students who have family members in Ukraine who are caught up in the conflict. It has prompted rallies and discussions in the University community, as well as a fellowship program cosponsored by Fordham’s Center for Jewish Studies to help Ukrainian scholars carry on with their work, despite the conflict.
The Russian invasion has caused $565 billion in economic losses in Ukraine, one of its government ministers said on March 28, and more than 4 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the start of the invasion, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Russian students are vulnerable too, as financial freezes in response to the Russian invasion can keep Russian families from supporting their students in the U.S. These young people may also be impacted emotionally by the backlash that Russians around the world are facing due to Putin’s actions. Bepler expressed hope that Russian students would not feel burdened or isolated by an action begun by the Russian president.
“This is symbolic of defending democracy against a madman,” she said. “In response to the madman, we’re going with magis,” she said, referring to the Jesuit concept of always seeking more opportunities to help others.
“If my small gesture helps one student do one simple thing much easier, and with less pain,” she said, “I feel very blessed.”
To apply for assistance from this fund, please contact Brian Ghanoo, assistant vice president, Office of Student Financial Services, at 718-817-3811 or firstname.lastname@example.org.