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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Scott Kull: The new Director of Athletics
Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

Refugees in Spartanburg

Wofford students will inform all who are interested on how the Syrian crisis happened, why the refugees are coming to Spartanburg and what students can do to help. Photo Credit to Mark Olencki.
Wofford students will inform all who are interested on how the Syrian crisis happened, why the refugees are coming to Spartanburg and what students can do to help. Photo Credit to Mark Olencki.

By: Sam Veremchuk, Contributing Writer

Most Wofford students that live in Spartanburg have heard that Syrian refugees have moved here and that many people are opposed to the newcomers. Their fears may come from a lack of knowledge about who these people are and why they have to come to Spartanburg in the first place. To combat misinformation, several students are putting together a panel to inform the Wofford student body on the issue and what they can do.

The panel was inspired by a professor-led panel earlier in the semester. One of the organizers of the event is Elizabeth Terrell, a sophomore. She hopes that the panel will “inform students and motivate them to help the Syrian refugees.”

“I am passionate about this panel because I believe that both sides of the issue are not being represented,” Terrell says. “Many people in Spartanburg just hear the negatives of the refugees moving into the area.”

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Another one of the key organizers of this event is Anum Ahmed, a senior. She is a Muslim student and the head of MSA (Muslim Student Alliance) on campus.

“There is a lot of information going around about the subject these days, and I know it may seem overwhelming at times to find appropriate sources of information on the topic,” Ahmed says. “This panel will give honest, objective information to any who are interested….I was motivated to be involved by the stories, news and images on the refugee crisis. I feel that I first have a human responsibility to help others who are oppressed or persecuted. This responsibility becomes even deeper for me as a devout follower of the Islamic faith; as a Muslim, I have an obligation to help others in difficult situations, regardless of their faith, ethnicity, gender or creed.”

“As President of the Muslim Student Association, I hope to represent the desire of all of our members to be involved in this effort,” she adds. “The MSA is open to students of any or no faith, and we have members that prescribe to Christianity, Hinduism or to no faith in particular. The different backgrounds that the MSA represents speak to the common rope of humanity that we all share, and which motivates us to take part in meaningful initiatives like the refugee panel.”

The students received help and guidance from several professors, especially from Courtney Dorroll assistant professor and MENA (Middle Eastern and North African studies) program coordinator.

“The issue of whether Spartanburg County welcomes refugees from the Middle East is a topic that directly impacts Wofford Students because they are living in this county. I am interested in hearing what students have to say on the issue. I think at a liberal arts campus and particularly Wofford’s mission to ‘prepare its students for extraordinary and positive contributions to society’ lends itself to having students carry on important conversations and issues in the local, national and international arena. This issue really involves all three arenas,” Dorroll says.

“I want Wofford students to feel comfortable coming to the event and sharing their perspectives on the issue. I am also impressed with the students leading the panel who have taken the time to plan and research this topic –going above and beyond assignments in their classes. Hopefully this workshop will inspire more Wofford students to put on panels and create student-led discussions. Jennifer Gutierrez and all the Student Affairs staff are great resources for students and student groups interested in hosting a student-led discussion on important issues,” Dorroll says.

This panel will focus mostly on Syrian refugees, but they are only a small number of refugees that Spartanburg has welcomed through the years. Spartanburg has been a home for refugees of all backgrounds for decades now. These refugees have come from Vietnam, Cambodia, Ukraine, Russia and other countries that were not safe to live in.

The discussion will take place on Nov. 19 at 11:00 a.m. in Phase V, room 112. Lunch will be provided.

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