One of the larger global issues concerning America during this election period is the treatment and acceptance of refugees from Syria into the country. Recently, the RWU campus hosted a Humanitarian Summit to address some of the actions the campus could partake in to help increase awareness towards this crisis.
The keynote speaker, Michael Niconchuk, spoke about his time in Syria trying to aid in the transport of refugees to their designated foster countries. Afterward, there was a student-run panel between members of six different groups that spoke on behalf of their different concerns: Hillel, International Relations Organization, FIMRC, Multicultural Student Union, Engineers Without Borders, Africana Student Coalition, and Roger for Refugees.
Alex Murphy, the representative from Roger for Refugees, shared his opinion on how the summit went.
“We had good representation from different groups, and afterward we had a good amount of people pitching in ideas for what we should be doing next and how we could improve. I would have liked to see more people come; I think we had close to 40 or 50 people during the part where Michael was speaking, but overall I think it went well for a first step,” Murphy said.
Murphy also wanted to clarify that the intention of the club is not to move refugees into the country.
“Our M.O. is to raise awareness and raise funds for these people who are in trouble. We know that they’re in trouble, we know that a lot of them are stuck in places, and even if we wanted them to come here they would have no way of getting here,” Murphy explained.
He also mentioned that he has hopes that more students on campus will get involved.
“I’d like to see us working with groups that don’t usually focus on this issue…[We need] more support and ideas coming from the faculty because I’m not seeing it right now. The main reason being that they don’t even know that there is a club right now. I’m sure a lot of faculty have their own projects going on related to this issue, but I’d like to see more communication between us and the general faculty to see who’s interested in this and how we can help.”
Murphy elaborated on the matter by saying he has been asked by professors to speak in classes on the topic and was happy to do so again.
Currently, there are many planned activities through the club in regard to the refugee crisis. There will be a candlelight vigil on November 15 on the GHH lawn from 6:00-7:00 p.m., and there are plans in the works for a replica refugee camp tent to be set up on campus with interactive activities to demonstrate what a day in the life of a refugee is like.
The next event in the “Quest for Refugee” series on campus is a performance of “Living in Limbo: Stateless Identities” from 1:50 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 11 in GHH.