UO and Clark Honors College students understand the value of a high quality education. They also understand that education is a privilege that many, including millions of refugee youth around the world, do not have access to. That is why they are spearheading a campaign that would allow refugees to attend the University of Oregon and receive the education they deserve.
The student-led refugee advocacy group, No Lost Generation UO, is currently working to create five four-year full scholarships for youth with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees with approved refugee status to attend the UO. They believe the initiative will not only provide refugees with a chance at a better life through access to education but will also enrich the university and Eugene communities academically and socially.
More than 60 U.S. universities currently provide tuition waivers for refugee students, including Columbia University, the University of Southern California and Yale University. No Lost Generation UO is working to add the UO to that list and to formally establish the institution as a community dedicated to diversity, inclusion and accessible education.
Currently, more than 65 million forcibly displaced people exist worldwide, and that number is on the rise. In the Middle East alone, more than one in five people are displaced, including more than 5 million refugees who have fled Syria, plus 6.6 million internally displaced.
Many of these refugees are college-age youth eager to pursue education but lack the means to do so. They rely on people who see their potential and are willing to open their doors and their hearts.
Honors college students Katrina Schmidt, Héloïse Gayet, Rachel Lamb and Momo Wilms-Crowe are working within No Lost Generation UO to create scholarships and hope to welcome at least one refugee student in fall 2017.
"In my mind, there is no choice in the matter. This advocacy work must to be done,” Wilms-Crowe said. “I am too aware of how lucky I am to have access to education to be passive. I am too aware of the statistics and the stories to not engage in the fight for wider access to education. What motivates me in my work with No Lost Generation is the hope that sometime soon I will meet a Duck who is here because of our scholarship. To know that I did something to make that possible would be incredible. This dream is pushing all of us in NLG to make this happen."
The Clark Honors College, the Office of International Affairs and many departments across campus already have pledged support for a new scholarship, but the work is not done. Students, faculty and staff are invited to show their support for the refugee scholarship effort by signing the petition or by submitting a statement of support that students can use when they submit their proposal to university administration. A letter template can be found on their website, and submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.