Arcadia University Passes “Refugees Welcome” Resolution

By Caitlin Burns | April 24, 2019
Students pose in front of Amnesty International banner


Olivia, Amara and Daisy by an Amnesty International banner

By Olivia Grajewski ’20

Arcadia University’s Student Government Organization passed an “I Welcome” resolution on April 18 declaring the campus a welcoming and safe place for refugees.

An effort led by the international organization Amnesty International, “I Welcome” resolutions are official, non-binding declarations of support for refugees that can be passed by cities or schools. The “I Welcome” resolution at Arcadia was proposed by the University’s Amnesty International Club.

The resolution states: “The student body of Arcadia University welcomes refugees and declares its support for the resettlement of refugees no matter their religion, race, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity or country of origin, in Glenside and calls upon other Pennsylvanian communities to join them in supporting a stronger national effort to resettle the world’s most vulnerable refugees.”

“Arcadia prides itself on being an international and diverse community,” said Amara O’Connell ’19, president of Arcadia’s Amnesty International Club. “What better way is there to ensure that than by saying that we are also an inclusive community for refugees and immigrants? I’m so happy that the Arcadia community has come together to take a stance on this issue and welcome our immigrant and refugee friends.”

Arcadia’s Amnesty International will work with Welcoming the Stranger, an educational nonprofit that offers free classes in English as a Second Language (ESL), computer skills, and United States citizenship exam preparation to adult immigrants and refugees in the Philadelphia metro region. Welcoming the Stranger, which is managed by Arcadia alumna Meg Eubank ’05, ’07MEd, has provided education to more than 4,000 refugees in the Philadelphia region since 1990 from more than 104 countries including Syria, Liberia, Russia, Burma, Ukraine, Iran, and more.

Daisy Saavedra ’22, a member of the Amnesty International club said, “The ‘I Welcome’ Resolution is a commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and community. Even more so, this Resolution enhances our duty, as global citizens, towards achieving a united and productive world through cross-cultural acceptance and learning of all peoples, especially immigrants and refugees. As such, as an undergraduate of Arcadia University, this Resolution encompasses the present and future dialogues, as well as actions that will take place on campus and in the greater Philadelphia area. I appreciate to be witness of such phenomena.”

The “I Welcome” resolution at Arcadia began after Olivia Grajewski ’20, Arcadia’s Amnesty International Club secretary, learned that a detention center was less than 15 minutes from her home of Reading, Pa. while at the Amnesty International 2018 Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference in November.

“The ‘I Welcome’ Resolution is only the start of something new for me, for Arcadia, and for the greater Philadelphia region,” said Grajewski. “It has laid the foundation to make a meaningful impact on so many refugees, immigrants, and their families lives. I am ready to continue this meaningful work.”

Jan Finn, associate dean for International Programs at Arcadia, said, “We are a community that advocates for positive transformation in local and global discourse. This resolution gives a voice to refugees who often have no voice, and they deserve our attention and our respect.”