December 2, 2015

Every Campus a Refuge Receives National Attention

Every Campus a Refuge, the movement started by Associate Professor Diya Abdo to aid Syrian refugees, has been featured in The Washington Post and on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

The Washington Post published the story – “What if every U.S. college campus offered to house a Syrian refugee family?” – online Nov. 20 and in its print edition Nov. 21. NPR aired its story – “In Bid To Welcome Refugees, Campaign Hopes To Make ‘Every Campus A Refuge’” – on Nov. 26.

During the summer and early fall, Diya watched in horror as the Syrian refugee crisis worsened. More than 4 million Syrian refugees have fled their country’s civil war.

The daughter of Palestinian refugees, she had an idea for how higher education could help. She proposed in mid-September that every college and university volunteer to house a Syrian refugee family.

“It came from a deep desperation to do something material and immediate,” Diya told the newspaper. “How can I use where I am, what I am, more deeply?”

Learn more about the movement at the Every Campus a Refuge website.

The movement has received support from Guilford College, where Diya has taught since 2008. Guilford has agreed to work with local relief organizations to provide shelter and support during a family’s initial 90-day resettlement period.

“We’re trying to do the right thing during this humanitarian crisis within our powers to do so,” Guilford College President Jane K. Fernandes said. “It just seems like it’s our moral responsibility to do something if we can.”

About a dozen other colleges and universities have expressed interest in the idea.

Since the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, opposition to bringing Syrian refugees to the U.S. has grown. Diya and Guilford remain committed to providing shelter to a Syrian refugee family.

“What happened in Paris and in Lebanon is heinous, it’s terrible, and it creates fear,” Diya said. “You can transform your fear into hatred or transform it into empathy, kindness and compassion.”

Read and view coverage of the Every Campus a Refuge movement.