Rally for Refugees

Syracuse University community stages sit-in to support refugees and immigrants

At least 200 Syracuse University students and faculty members gathered at the Life Sciences Complex to show solidarity for refugees.

When Nedda Sarshar graduates from Syracuse University in May, the odds of her parents seeing her lead the Class of 2017’s procession as Senior Class Marshal are unlikely. 

Her parents, who are Iranian refugees, will probably stay back in Canada, fearing what would happen to them if they tried to travel into the U.S. in light of President Donald Trump’s recent executive order on immigration.

Photo: Seth Coulter
Syracuse students protest on the campus of Syracuse University. The march was in retaliation of President Trumps ban on refugees that was recently passed.

“This s---, it’s going to get worse,” Sarshar said. “We keep resisting, never getting used to it. This is about standing up to hate.”

Sarshar joined at least 200 SU students and faculty members during a sit-in at the Life Sciences Complex’s atrium Thursday afternoon to show solidarity for refugees in the city of Syracuse and across the world. The sit-in took place days after hundreds of local residents protested Trump’s executive order at the Syracuse International Hancock Airport. 

Members from SU's Oxfam chapter, Muslim Students' Association, Amnesty International, SU College Democrats and Democracy Matters collaborated to organize the march from Crouse-Hinds Hall, across the promenade to Life Sciences. Dina Eldawy, co-president of the Muslim Students' Association, called on students to support local refugees through volunteering and advocacy.

“We want to make a difference,” she said, adding that just being angry will not bring more refugees into the country or help those that are already in Syracuse.

Other speakers also encouraged students to be civically engaged and stand up for local refugees and immigrants. Communication and rhetorical studies professor Dana Cloud told attendees to seek out organizations in order to make a change.

“Shut that man up, and shut him down,” Cloud said, bringing people to cheer and applaud.

For Muslim-American students like English and creative writing junior Cody Benbow, the sit-in was an opportunity to see that he was not alone. “It made me really happy seeing professors and peers, just to see that we’re all here,” he said. “It’s a collective movement.”

Benbow also said their voices are more powerful if they speak up together, adding that the presidential administration wants them to be silent.

Sarshar echoed similar sentiments. Becoming complacent with discriminatory actions is like getting used to putting a frog in a teakettle and letting it stay inside it. “It’s a terrible analogy, but that’s what happening,” she explained.

But the sit-in reassured Sarshar’s faith in her school. “I believe in this campus,” she said. “There are people that love me, and there are people that I love.”

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