By Sean Willett, July 20 2017 —
The University of Calgary will only welcome one refugee student to campus this fall semester, instead of the usual two. Students’ Union vice-president operations and finance Ryan Wallace announced the news during the July 18 session of Students’ Legislative Council.
Each year, the SU’s refugee student board (RSB) chooses two students to sponsor through the World University Service of Canada. Though the RSB selected two candidates for sponsorship this year, one of the students was unable to continue with the program.
“They unfortunately had some family circumstances come up and they felt like they wouldn’t be able to come to the U of C this fall,” Wallace said. “So they ended up withdrawing from the program.”
Because of the late timing of this withdrawal, the SU was not able to sponsor a different student for the fall semester. The money that would have gone towards sponsoring a second student will be returned to the SU’s refugee student fund.
“Because it is a restricted fund, we are only able to spend that money on refugee students. So that money will stay within the account and will be spent on future refugee students,” Wallace said. “But it’s important to note that the money in the restricted fund is used for emergent reasons as well. So if a refugee student ever has an urgent health care issue where they have to pay for an emergency medical procedure, we can use that money to help.”
Refugee students sponsored by the SU are funded through a student levy of $2.25 a semester, which was established after a referendum in 1986. To date, the program has sponsored 31 students from six different countries.
“I really like the fact that we’re able to give refugee students an opportunity to come get a post-secondary education, and that we can provide them with a lot of support and resources,” Wallace said. “I’m really happy with the program, and think it’s something the U of C should be proud of.”