Cal Poly’s Armenian Students’ Association (ASA) held a booth on Dexter Lawn on Oct. 12 to raise funds to provide financial support and care packages for those affected by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, psychology sophomore and ASA Co-President Miriana Vitullo told Mustang News.
Nagorno-Karabakh, a landlocked region inhabited primarily by ethnic Armenians yet internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, has been an area of ethnic and territorial conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan for over a century, according to ABC News. Azerbaijan recaptured the region through a military offensive on Sept. 19, causing more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians to flee in what Armenia has condemned as an inhumane act of ethnic cleansing, ABC reported.
According to biomedical engineering junior and ASA member Irina Sargsyan, ASA partnered with Emili Aregak Centre – an Armenian nonprofit organization that supports children and youth with disabilities – to provide meals, hygienic items and care packages for displaced Armenian families.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been a major source of stress and concern and often makes typical day-to-day tasks difficult for Armenian students at Cal Poly, Sargsyan said. She believes Cal Poly’s administration should spread awareness about this conflict and provide support for its Armenian student population.
“It is very hard for me as an Armenian student during this conflict because I try to focus on my homework and I am just filled with this heartbreak,” Sargsyan said. “There should be a statement from President Armstrong or ASI that tells [Armenian students] that they’re here for us. Supporting Armenian students needs to be a priority of Cal Poly and right now it isn’t.”
Vitullo said in addition to an acknowledgement from the administration, making donations, spreading awareness and having empathy for Armenian students in this time is vital.
“It would be awesome to have people reach out and say, ‘I’ve heard about what’s happening in Armenia; How can I help?’” Vitullo said. “If everyone on this campus was willing to help, we’d have an incredible impact.”