Host countries often offer Syrian refugees an elementary education, but refugees that seek higher education in their new states frequently face logistical and financial barriers. One UW-Madison student has started a movement to urge the university to aid her Syrian counterparts.
Nour Saeed, a UW-Madison junior, posted an online petition Saturday that calls on UW-Madison to offer 10 scholarships to future Syrian students. She is aiming for 100 signatures—as of Wednesday the petition had received 41. Only individuals with a UW-Madison email address can sign the petition.
Once the petition has enough signatures, Saeed will take it to the Associated Students of Madison, who will then write a bill which, if passed, will be brought to Dean of Students Lori Berquam and Chancellor Rebecca Blank.
The petition is live on the website of the international student-run campaign Books Not Bombs, which asks academic institutions to offer a certain number, based on the school’s ability, of scholarships to Syrian students. It also calls on universities to offer linguistic and logistical support for the individuals.
Saeed said witnessing the civil war start while she was in Jordan motivated her to do start petition.
“When Aleppo started to look like a genocide I didn’t want to be one of those people that stands by when there’s mass atrocities being committed around the world,” Saeed said. “I truly do believe that true change can only come about with education.”
She said 79 universities worldwide have agreed to offer scholarships to Syrian students. By agreeing to provide students with these opportunities, UW-Madison will join these universities in the Syria Consortium and show support for furthering the education of Syrian Students.
“UW-Madison is a really big school, so obviously they can give more than maybe a smaller college or private school could,” Saeed said. “It calls on the school … to provide support for these Syrian families and allow them to get an education, because they can’t do so in their own countries anymore.”
UPDATE Jan. 19, 2:10 p.m.: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Jordan was Saeed's home country. The Daily Cardinal regrets this error.