Ukrainian delegates speak with political science students and guests Monday.
photo by Erik Swanson
Linn-Benton Community College, along with the Corvallis Sister Cities Association and Open World, a U.S. government exchange program, opened their doors and their minds to play host to a group of five Ukrainian delegates beginning Saturday afternoon.
The delegates paid a visit to LBCC on Monday. They sat in on a session about the U.S. Rule of Law in Doug Clark's Introduction to Comparative Politics Class, had lunch with LB President Dr. Rita Cavin and had an open discussion in the Fireside Room.
"It's very exciting to have them here on campus," said Clark. "To have people from abroad come to LB and to a class like this is great. It's a perfect cap to a class that has talked about the Ukraine and Europe."
While visiting LB, the delegates were faced with questions not only from students, but from instructors as well.
"What is your view of U.S. leadership?" said LB student David Rickels.
"I didn't like the elections," said Judge Valentyna Antypets. “They were even worse than ours."
Ukraine: Legal reps tour state judicial system
After answering this question, the delegates continued to talk about U.S. politics, however they were careful with their answers and tried to switch off of the topic, which the students in Clark's class said they did well.
Many of the questions asked of the delegates pertained to their views of the election held last November in the Ukraine, how they feel about the European Union and how laws in the U.S. are similar or different from that of the Ukraine.
"What is the least crime you can do and still go to prison?" said LB student Brooke Mathis. "Burglary, and then it depends on what you take," explained Antypets.
While discussing crime and prisons in the Ukraine, one of the delegates mentioned that only about five percent of all cases that end up in court are dismissed.
Another student asked if they should join the European Union and if they identify with them. The common theme from the group was that they hope the Ukraine is on the right track to eventually be a part of the EU, but there are so many requirements to being a part of this and the Ukraine first wants to establish its own history and take their time in doing so before making any decisions like joining the EU.
When asked about the elections that just took place and how they felt about the Orange Revolution, the delegates said that no one was prepared for what had happened and that it wasn't really a revolution as it is called by the media.
It was more of a chance for Ukrainians to have their voice heard and to establish a democratic society. They also pointed out that the vote count was done in a different way than it was supposed to, and that because of the falsification, the Ukrainians exercised their rights to protest peacefully in Kiev.
"We don't want to be cheated," said one.
The theme of their visit is the rule of law and it will give the delegates a chance to visit and see American law enforcement and the judicial system at work. Their program is based upon their desire to learn about other countries and learn about civil society here in the U.S.
Of the five Ukrainians visiting, four are lawyers. Two of them are judges, one is a legal researcher and a staff member to the Ukrainian parliament, another is the director of a nongovernmental organization on human rights and one is a facilitator for the group.
Prior to coming to Oregon the delegates spent two days at the Open World orientation in Washington D.C.
Yesterday the delegates observed a criminal case at the Oregon Supreme Court, had a tour of the Supreme Court Chambers and visited Willamette University College of Law.
Over the next few days they will visit the Benton County Courthouse, sit in on juvenile hearings, meet with the Benton County commissioners, visit a drug treatment center, and tour the Benton County Sheriff's Office and county jail in Corvallis.
"It's a real privilege to have them here," Clark said. "They will probably be pretty satisfied with the various experiences they will have this week."
«The Commuter». – Wednesday, March 9, 2005 Linn-Benton Community College, Albany, Oregon. – www.linnbenton.edu/commuter. – Volume 36 No. 17. – p. 1, 4.