BERKELEY (CBS SF) — Students at the University of California, Berkeley are urging school officials to join other universities offering scholarships specifically for Syrian refugees.
The Institute of International Education (IIE) has dozens of colleges and universities among its Syria Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis, but UC Berkeley is not one of them.
UC Berkeley students with the group Students Organize for Syria gathered on campus Wednesday for a silent demonstration in front of Sproul Hall to show support for Syrian refugees whose education has been interrupted by war.
UC Berkeley’s Daily Californian reported the silent demonstration included a scene of empty chairs and empty backpacks set up to represent Syrian students who weren’t getting an education due to the civil war in Syria that has continued for over five years.
The advocacy group Books Not Bombs is spearheading an international campaign to get as many universities and colleges as possible to offer scholarships to Syrian students through IIE’s Syria consortium.
Books Not Bombs launched an online petition urging over 170 colleges and universities to offer scholarships for Syrian refugees. While over 11,000 people have signed the petition, the largest campus support comes from UC Berkeley.
UC Berkeley spokesperson Adam Ratliff told the Daily Californian that staff from the university’s financial aid and scholarships office were scheduled to meet with Books Not Bombs on Friday. Ratliff did not immediately respond to a CBS San Francisco inquiry Friday into the outcome of that meeting.
While UC Berkeley has not created a scholarship fund for Syrian refugees, among the other universities offering Syrians scholarships is the University of Southern California.
USC announced in April that each year it will provide scholarships to up to six Syrian refugees. It has committed to providing full-tuition scholarships to five graduate students and one undergraduate student. USC is also providing additional resources for Ph.D. students from Syria. Students awarded the scholarships will begin arriving on the USC campus in the spring.
By Hannah Albarazi – Follow her on Twitter: @hannahalbarazi.