Faculty committee forms to take action in wake of refugee crisis

Published: September 18, 2015


Faith Editor

The University has taken action in response to the escalating international refugee crisis. The Rev. Richard Malloy, S.J., announced at the 7 p.m. Mass Sunday that faculty and administration will form a committee to determine a strategy for addressing the issue with compassion.

The decision to take concrete steps toward justice for the masses fleeing Syria follows Pope Francis’ powerful call to action for European parishes and all religious institutions last Sunday.

Francis implored those with the necessary means to host the families, who seek refuge from ISIS’ violence
“May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, take in one family,” Francis said on Vatican Radio.

Francis’ message has spread on an international level since the Vatican’s announcement and subsequent decision to host two families.

Thursday, President Barack Obama announced that the United States would take in 10,000 refugees over the next year, and many religious institutions have responded with openness.

As a Catholic institution shaped by Jesuit ideals, The University must determine how best to serve the displaced refugees, possibly by providing a family with housing.

The committee, which includes Anitra McShea, Ph.D.,Vice Provost for Student Formation and Campus Life, Helen Wolf, Ph.D the director of campus ministry and several professors from a variety of disciplines, will try to develop tangible, realistic solutions.

McShea declined to comment until the committee has established more of a plan, but did say in an email that she looks forward to discussing it in the future.

Students have hopes that the committee will raise awareness of the nuances of the crisis among The University community.
Senior Krysta Horocofsky learned about the refugee crisis while studying in Denmark and wishes that schools in the United States would focus on public education of the international issue.

“The Syrian refugee crisis is a big issue, and there may be students here who know nothing about it,” Horocofsky said. “I think the first step for us as a Jesuit University would be education and awareness, but it has to be done in a well-rounded way.”

Horocofsky emphasized the need to posit realistic methods while considering the call to help.

“Even though we are a religiously affiliated institution, we can’t just look at it through a religious perspective. We have to look at it through a humanitarian perspective,” she said.

“There are students who wish they could help in their own way, so they should talk about what we can do about it as individuals, especially if a lot of them are tied to the religious aspects behind it.”

Senior Marisa Riley agrees about the need to educate as a Jesuit school.

“The first thing we should do as an educational institution is to raise awareness,” she said.

Riley also suggested providing education for Syrian students.

“Since we come from a place based on education, we should be looking for ways to assist those people,” she said.

“The perfect thing I can think for us to do is start accepting Syrian students and integrating them into our own educational community, though I’m not sure how reasonable that is.”

Ultimately, the committee reflects the Ignatian ideal of fostering “men and women for and with others.”

Riley hopes that The University will focus on that solidarity.

“If we keep thinking ‘poor them,’ it’s not going to get any better.”

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