In February of this year, Brown accepted a scholar who had been displaced by the Syrian Civil War. Tarek, who spoke to The Herald last week as a part of its series on Syrians in Providence and whose name has been changed to preserve anonymity for the sake of his and his family’s safety, left his family and his work at a university in Damascus shortly after rebel missiles started hitting streets in his neighborhood. He left relatively early, before things grew worse in the capital, when leaving was still a choice.
As the violence persists in the ongoing turmoil between numerous Syrian rebel factions and President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and millions of refugees seek safety and peace abroad, it will be critical that the University continue to recruit, hire and protect Syrian and Iraqi scholars out of academic and humanitarian solidarity. The University should build on these efforts, helping to resettle intellectuals and students who have been forced to flee the region. This will not only benefit those employed by such an initiative but also the University, which stands to benefit much from the perspectives that would be brought to campus.
Rhode Island welcomed its first family of Syrian refugees last month. The University and other state institutions should help accommodate those who have recently arrived, whether professionally or personally, in order to integrate the refugees into the broader community. The activism of students against anti-refugee sentiment should be mirrored by administrative advocacy.
By working to recruit academics from Syrian universities, the University can provide powerful support for a scholar’s immigration status. As many intellectuals are deeply endangered by the violent and restrictive policies of ISIS, the University should work to save those whose very research puts them in jeopardy. Brown has one of the few departments devoted to ancient Mesopotamia and Egyptology, and it should actively seek out and find roles at the college for displaced Syrian archaeologists, museum workers and academics, for both their safety and the University’s scholarship.
Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Emma Axelrod ’18 and Emma Jerzyk ’17, and its members, Eben Blake ’17 and Leeron Lempel ’19. Send comments to email@example.com.