Student Senate President Andrea Atkinson speaking at the SMCC solidarity vigil/Alexis Wells

SOUTH PORTLAND — The Southern Maine Community College Student Senate held a vigil to show its solidarity with the students, families, and people of Ukraine, who are struggling due to the military attack on the country by Russia. 

On March 10 at 4:30 p.m., 25 students and staff stood outside the SMCC Community Center to show their support for Ukraine. Andrea Atkinson, Student Senate president spoke on behalf of the student body and made an emotional speech, wishing the people of Ukraine comfort, strength, safe harbor, and resilience during this challenging time. 

“The SMCC student body would like everyone in the community to know that the campus and student body offers their full support for the people of Ukraine and wish them comfort and safety during these difficult times,” Atkinson said. “Millions of people displaced, lives changed, lives lost, millions of children don’t know right now where their future will be. My heart goes out to the people in our community that have Ukrainian heritage and families in Ukraine.”

“But I will have to say that my heart also goes out to the people in our community that have Russian heritage and family in Russia,” she said. “I want to acknowledge how complicated this situation is and that often decisions made by those in the government does not necessarily represent the will of the people in those countries,” 

Professor Herb Adams, faculty advisor for the SMCC Student Senate, talked about the families, students and children of Ukraine.

“What a difference two weeks can make,” Adams said. “Today, halfway around the world, over two million Ukrainians, twice the population of the state of Maine are refugees. Today, about one million of them are children. Universities in Ukraine are bombarded, destroyed, students killed and scattered. Students, staff, and SMCC family, we stand with the free people of Ukraine.”


Many tears were shed as well as a moment of silence for those who have been killed due to the war in Ukraine.

University students in Ukraine have been put in a situation no student should have to go through, said Student Senate member Mya Gerry. 

“Unfortunately, this difficult time isn’t something that we can really relate to,” Gerry said. “We may have friends or family overseas that are going through this challenging time or family and friends in the military that we’re scared for. But on the level that the civilians are going through, we just cannot fathom. As college students here we can sympathize with them and try to understand what it would be like if our school were to get demolished tomorrow. I think it is important for us to take the time to put ourselves into their shoes. To sympathize and pray for them and hope that their lives will return to normal soon.”

SMCC Vice President and Academic Dean Dr. Paul Charpentier spoke on how important it is for everyone to stand in solidarity.

“I looked this afternoon to see if anything was happening and I was finding the number of people that have died, over a thousand civilians so far and they think it is more than that, but they are having trouble getting the numbers,” Charpentier said.”It is a devastating crisis, and we think of them. If you went into my office you would see a few Ukrainian Easter eggs, my wife is of Ukrainian ancestry and makes them. There is a Ukrainian folklore that says when you make these beautiful eggs they help to chain the monster to the mountain and we need to chain the monster to the mountain. So everybody make Easter eggs this year and just think of the people and what they are going through.”


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