UTMSU’s newest sponsored refugee student has yet to arrive in Canada.
Last November at the UTMSU AGM, VP external Naveed Ahmed announced the union’s intentions to sponsor a second student refugee this academic year. As of September 2015, UTMSU had sponsored a Kenyan student through the World University Service of Canada.
The second refugee student, a Syrian national currently residing in Lebanon, has yet to arrive. According to Ahmed, UTMSU remains in touch with WUSC’s head office for her travel information and status of her arrival.
Ahmed said that the cost of sponsoring a WUSC student is $60,000, which will be covered entirely by UTMSU.
“When we approached the UTM administration regarding funding for the second WUSC student, they could not make the necessary allocations since the expenses were not budgeted for during the 2016/17 fiscal year,” said Ahmed. “UTMSU decided to fund the entire cost related to the second WUSC student.”
According to Ahmed, UTMSU was able to fund a second refugee student from a surplus of money reserved from the WUSC student levy. Each student pays $1.10 for the levy, which according to Ahmed is not expected to increase in light of the second refugee.
“The WUSC levy is collected after running a referendum at UTM and this fee cannot be increased without another referendum,” said Ahmed. The only increase that the fee can be adjusted to is the annual inflation rate (CPI adjustments) as per the approval of UTM students through [the] referendum.
“Over the past few months, we as a community have watched news of the Syrian refugee crisis with overwhelming distress, sorrow, and frustration,” said Ahmed. “In the wake of this Syrian refugee crisis, UTMSU wanted to make an impact through WUSC.”
Aside from sponsoring students, UTM students have supported the resettlement of Syrian refugees through fundraising activities organized by UTMSU and the Muslim Students Association. Last October and November, both student groups collected money and clothing from students in support of the resettlement.