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New centre to support refugees up for vote

by Laura Marchand March 29, 2016

The Refugee Centre is asking for a $0.37 per credit fee-levy

A group of concerned students and alumni are asking Concordia’s student body to approve a new fee-levy to support students in Canada as immigrants and refugees. The money—37 cents a credit, or $5.55 a semester for a full-time student—would be used to create a new Refugee Centre within the university.

The centre would be equipped to handle the unique problems associated with these communities. For example, the Centre would be capable of helping new arrivals navigate their immigration status, school work, career choices, housing, and legal issues.

“For the past couple of years we’ve been getting a lot of students come to [club offices] with problems and issues—and most of them were immigrants or refugees,” said Abdulla Daoud, one of the directors of the proposed Refugee Centre. “[We wanted to] give an opportunity to Concordia students to utilize their skills in whichever area of study they’re in to help out and aid these students in need, who are refugees or immigrants or newcomers to the country.”

Daoud says that existing resources at Concordia may not be equipped to handle the specifics of immigration law, which led the organizers to seek a new, specialized space.

In addition to helping newcomers to Canada, the Refugee Centre will also help established Concordians get valuable job experience. “We hope to have 20 internships that students can apply to, and get experience, so that when they reach the real world or they graduate, they have something on their resume,” said Daoud. “They’re done something that actually relates to their degree. That way both the students and the refugees and immigrants can benefit together.”

The organization has already been in talks with a number of organizations, such as Concordia’s Syrian Students Association, Amnesty International and Concordia University’s administration, and is prepared to mobilize should the referendum pass. “We’re going to move forward with structuring it and hopefully opening in the downtown campus,” said Daoud.

Daoud says that “the majority of the money will be going back to the students,” and believes that the amount of services the centre will provide will justify the cost. Even if the referendum fails, Daoud said they will try to offer what services they can without the fee-levy support.

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