Regents to Consider Funding Scholarships for Syrian Refugee Students

The University of California Student Association (UCSA) passed a resolution in early December formally supporting a program to reserve scholarships and spaces for Syrian refugee students applying to UCs. UCSA further advised UC Regents to release a statement detailing funding for such a program by the end of the 2016-17 academic year.

The resolution also urged UC Regents to join the Institute of  International Education (IIE)’s Syria Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis, a worldwide organization designed to offer support to students displaced by the current conflict in Syria.

Membership in the IIE’s Syria Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis would require the UC system “to commit to offer support to students displaced by conflict, notably Syrian students, in the form of partial or full scholarships,” according to the resolution.

Similar resolutions calling on individual UC campuses to join the IIE Consortium have already been passed by Associated Students of UC Berkeley, UC Davis and UC Irvine (ASUCI). ASUCI passed its resolution on Oct. 18, 2016.

Hearts of Mercy at UCI, a campus organization dedicated to raising awareness and creating opportunities for Syrian refugees, began spearheading the campaign to induct UC into the IIE Consortium in fall quarter of 2016. The organization began by passing a resolution of support through ASUCI, with the eventual goal of passing resolutions through other UC campuses, UCSA, and finally securing approval from the UC Board of Regents.

The consideration of the resolution by UC Regents could be affected by UCI’s pending decision to leave UCSA, which will be voted on by ASUCI Senate this week.

According to Hearts of Mercy at UCI Public Relations Specialist Iman Siddiqi, the organization will need the support of UCSA to send student advocates from UCI to present the resolution at an upcoming Regents meeting.

“If ASUCI is trying to withdraw from UCSA, then we’re going to have to present [this resolution] to UC Regents as soon as possible. Broken ties between UCI and UCSA could affect the progress of our campaign,” Siddiqi said.

Siddiqi hopes that UCSA’s support will bolster the presentation of the resolution to UC Regents planned for this quarter.

“UCSA represents student governments on all the UC campuses so getting their support was an important step,” said Siddiqi. “The Associated Students at UCI, UC Berkeley and UC Davis have already passed resolutions and now we have UCSA support as well. We plan to present the campaign to the UC Regents in either their scheduled meeting at the end of this month or their meeting in March.”