The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa Students for Refugees increases awareness on social justice issue


A new organization on campus aims to empower local refugees by enacting programs that can better their futures, including raising funds to build new shelters and resources.

The group, Iowa Students for Refugees, was started by University of Iowa sophomores Maddy Bradley and Allexis Mahanna.

The pair began the organization after discussing social-justice issues last year, focusing on how refugees are treated and noting that people do not realize some important issues they go through.

Bradley also interned during summer 2017 for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, and she was inspired to form a UI group to educate the community and offer support to individuals.

“Sometimes watching the news makes problems seem like they are just too big to tackle,” Bradley said. “I felt that way when learning about the massive global refugee crisis that we are currently experiencing all over the world. Starting small and creating a community-based organization seemed like the best way I could use my resources to help.”

Mahanna and Bradley both said advocating for refugees and improving their quality of life is vital to the strength of the community, and advocacy is necessary to be a compassionate being.

“It is important for UI students to advocate for refugees because they are people — and every person deserves to be supported,” Mahanna said. “There is a need to dispel rumors that refugees are terrorists, because that could not be less true, and that stigma can make it hard for refugees to be accepted in America.”

Student involvement is needed in order to raise awareness for the issue that many countries will not accept refugees, she said, and this involvement could help to make an impact at the federal level.

Currently, the organization has a Go Fund Me in place and has raised more than $1,350. Donations will go toward local groups that share common goals, including the Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa and IC Compassion. The group plans to eventually create a center for refugees in the community, as well as to engage the community in refugee awareness.

In order to raise more funds, Students for Refugees will hold a bake sale on April 5 on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway. Additionally, the group will hold a movie screening on May 1 in order to raise community awareness about refugee issues.

Bradley said she believes that education and awareness is vital to the UI community, and she hopes to create conversations based on the fundraisers.

“My biggest hope for the organization is that first and foremost we are able to make a difference here on campus and spread the truth about refugees and their situations so individuals not only have more exposure to them but also so they’re willing to step up and advocate for them,” Mahanna said.

UI freshman Seamus Sullivan said he joined the group after learning about the refugee crisis in Syria, and he wanted to make a difference in the community.

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