Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 01:20 am est

Students at NYU Prague respond to Ukrainian conflict

Posted on March 3, 2014 | by Emily Bell and Jordan Melendrez

Jordan Melendrez for WSN

Czech Republic President Milo Zeman expressed his disapproval of Russian military action in Ukraine on March 1, comparing the potential consequences of troop mobilization to the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet and Warsaw Pact troops.

Despite warnings from U.S. government officials, Russian President Vladimir Putin mobilized troops in the Crimean Peninsula on Saturday. In response, Ukrainian troops were placed on high alert the next day while NATO commenced an emergency meeting.

Just under 900 miles away from Kiev, students studying at NYU Prague held a small vigil in Wenceslas Square and the Prague staff raised money for Ukrainians at a bake sale.

Students gathered in two different residence halls to bake and sell treats on Feb. 25. The money was sent to Ukraine for items such as bandages, painkillers, paracetamol and sanitizers.

Filip Chráska, a third-year student at the University of Economics in Prague and RA at Osadni residence hall, spearheaded the bake sale to raise awareness of the crisis in Ukraine and provide assistance.

“It is most importantly shocking that such bloodshed is happening in Europe of 2014,” Chráska said. “I don’t perceive any realistic [threats] for the Czech Republic. For me, the proximity to [Independance Square] rather means a commitment to help.”

Beyond the NYU Prague community, tourists and Czech natives began a small vigil on Feb. 20. They placed flowers, candles and papers with photos of loved ones in Ukraine under the prominent statue of St. Wenceslas.

Gallatin junior Meredith Korda heard about both the bake sale and the vigil, but was not able to attend because of scheduling conflicts. Though she feels safe in the Czech Republic, Korda said her desire to travel to Ukraine was curtailed by the violence.

“It’s really interesting being this close because you definitely hear more about it, and it feels a lot more real,” Korda said. “It doesn’t feel so far away now.”

Korda said she was not surprised by Russia’s military actions, but did find them troublesome.

“The conflict was clearly always about Russia and the European Union to some extent, but I thought they would have kept their involvement more fiscal and behind-the-scenes than [using the] military,” Korda said.

For CAS junior Kelsie Blazier, the social and political upheaval in Eastern Europe was not surprising either — it was almost expected given the recent unrest in the region. As a broadcast journalism major, she wants to involve herself in these events.

“I want to be on the ground with the protesters, taking photographs and filming,” Blazier said. “Now I have the urge to go cover the events because I am so geographically close, and I find the situation at hand both fascinating and frightening.”

Chráska echoed Blazier’s sentiments about feeling a sense of obligation to the situation in Ukraine, despite the distance he said was present among his Czech peers.

“One should feel obligation to any people in need,” Chráska said. “But this very case might [be] more sensitive because the scars of the history of the post-Soviet bloc are still here.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 3 print edition. Emily Bell is a foreign correspondent. Jordan Melendrez is an editor-at-large. Email them at 


profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.