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The World University Service of Canada and the University of Ottawa will be sponsoring seven refugee students next fall. Photo: Jaclyn McRae-Sadik.

$200k donation from university will fund both grad and undergrads

The referendum question to bring a third refugee student to the University of Ottawa was passed during the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) elections, but uncertainty  as to whether this would actually happen arose at the most recent Board of Administration (BOA) meeting on Mar. 23.

Anne-Émilie Hébert, president of the SFUO, said while presenting a portion of the executive report that, after a review with the World University Service of Canada’s (WUSC) U of O local committee, WUSC uOttawa had spent over their budget and required a $5,000 advance to bring the third refugee student for the September semester.

“They don’t have that $5,000 to bring in the third refugee in September at this time, so what we’re talking about is, our solution was to ask the Ottawa WUSC branch to provide us that $5,000 until they get their levy later on,” said Hébert.

During the BOA question period, Lee Chitty, proxy for the faculty of common law and representative-elect for the upcoming academic year, asked if there was an alternative way to meet the referendum task, suggesting using internal money, and that he didn’t want a temporary cash flow problem to prevent it.

Hébert reiterated that they would be asking the WUSC head office in Ottawa for the money and would pay it back once the $0.50 per semester levy came in.

“Worst case scenario our plan B is that the student will definitely be here for January for the winter semester,” she said.

WUSC uOttawa, an SFUO club, already sponsors two refugee students to attend the university and Justin Whitaker, WUSC uOttawa’s senior adviser, said it costs roughly $25,000 to support a student each year.  Money for this funding is also taken from the student levy.

As part of that $25,000, $5,000 per student is required before their arrival as a form of confirmation that they can support the student, said Whitaker.

Just over a week after the BOA meeting, Whitaker confirmed the organization had come to an agreement with WUSC headquarters and they would be able to delay paying the $5,000 advance from April/May until they receive the levy in September, allowing the student to join the Fall intake.

Whitaker said they are currently in the process of reviewing the files of the three prospective students and, while he can’t reveal too much, he confirmed one of them would be Syrian.

“Part of our campaign was the fact that we wanted to bring a Syrian student over,” said Whitaker.

As it turns out, not only will there be a third student supported by WUSC, Whitaker said the university administration pledged a donation to sponsor four additional Syrian refugees as well, which WUSC uOttawa will facilitate.

“It’s really great. So this fall 2016 we’re going to have seven students—three from our normal cohort and four from the $200,000 fund that was provided by the University of Ottawa administration,” he said.

Whitaker said the university’s fund will be used to bring two undergraduate students and two masters students.

“(The U of O) dedicated $200,000 to our local committee since we have the firm base of already bringing students over, so with that we’re going to be bringing four Syrian students—guaranteed.”