Although a recent ACCU Peace and Justice blog post featured three Catholic colleges and universities’ response to the Syrian refugee crisis, many other Catholic colleges have been working to assist refugees and advocate on their behalf.
The University of Scranton has been strongly committed to aiding refugees abroad and in the U.S., advocating for peace and for greater acceptance of refugees into the U.S., and educating its students about the crisis and inspiring them to act. The campus initiative In Solidarity with Syria seeks to combine advocacy and educational efforts.
President Kevin Quinn, SJ, wrote an editorial urging compassion for refugees in the Scranton Times-Tribune last fall. He also wrote a letter to federal elected officials urging the U.S. government to address the refugee crisis. He noted that the University was exploring how to help Syrian students interested in further education in the United States, as well as how to help refugee families that settle in the local community.
University alumni have also been extensively involved in the efforts to assist refugees. For example, Bill Canny ’77, H’07, as the executive director of Migration and Refugee Services at USCCB, has been working with DOS and the local Catholic Social Services to work towards doubling the 100,000 refugee ceiling that the government has set for 2017.
Another alumna, Elena Habersky ’13, has lived in Amman, Jordan, where she started teaching English as a Fulbright scholar and is now the program and administrative manager of Collateral Repair Project, a nongovernmental organization that helps refugees. Read about her experiences in her article “Bearing Witness: Stories from the Holy Land,” featured in America Magazine.
Finally, the university has been working hard to educate students on campus about the refugee crisis. Led by Anitra McShea, Ph.D., the vice provost for student formation and campus life, In Solidarity with Syria has taken off in various directions. The initiative has brought to the university activities such as The Refugee Simulation, in which participants walk through five stations that simulate the typical refugee experience. Students are then encouraged to learn about and work with refugees in the local community.
The University has also encouraged deeper academic and informal discussions on the refugee crisis and has implored its students, staff, and faculty to, as Dr. McShea puts it, “utilize [their] gifts, talents and collective resources (intellectual, fiscal) to serve those marginalized and persecuted in our global community.”
How has your college or university responded to the Syrian refugee crisis? Let us know!