By Caleb Smith
A coalition of student groups has launched a Syrian Refugee Awareness Week this week to educate the student body about the ongoing crisis and to collect donations for the assistance of Syrian refugees.
The program includes clothing collection bins in residence halls, a teach-in about the crisis and a benefit dinner to raise funds for the charity United Muslim Relief.
The week was launched through a combined effort of the Arab Student Association, the Jewish Student Association, the Muslim Student Union and Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine.
The teach-in is set to be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday in the Branner lounge and will be co-sponsored by OpenXChange. According to Jewish Student Association co-President Emma Neiman ’16, the teach-in will serve as an introduction to the Syrian conflict, and attendees do not need to have previous knowledge about the war.
The benefit dinner is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday at the Havana Room of the Graduate Community Center. Stanford students can attend at no cost, but there will be opportunities to donate to help the refugees.
“It’s important to do our best to get as much aid to [the refugees] as we possibly can,” Neiman said.
The clothing drive’s donations will be given to the Sacramento Food Bank, which assists in the resettlement of Syrian refugees. Although full details were not yet available, a “chai chat” was also being planned to provide more opportunities for students to discuss the crisis. More details on the discussion event will be sent to students via email, Neiman said.
Representatives of the Muslim Student Union, the Jewish Student Union and the Arab Student Association all expressed hope that students would learn from the events being put together this week.
“We are united in hoping to address [the Syrian crisis] in a positive manner,” said Arab Student Association representative Abdullah AlSharhan ’18.
The series of events scheduled for this week came out of a collaboration among the groups that involved intense planning fall quarter.
“There was a lot of work put into this, a lot of organizations came together,” said Muslim Student Union representative Veshan Hussain ’16.
“[We are] part of a faith tradition that really values brotherhood and sisterhood and compassion and kindness,” Hussain said. “[By] raising awareness of the [crisis the refugees are] going through, we hope to show we stand in support and solidarity.”
The war in Syria, which started when Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad crushed peaceful protests in 2011, has claimed over 250,000 lives and displaced 11 million individuals.
“[The] events in Syria are catastrophic,” AlSharhan said. “The entire country is tearing itself apart.”
Contact Caleb Smith at caleb17 ‘at’ stanford.edu.