Opinion

Trump’s unclear stance on Syria: CRSA’s response

On April 4, a chemical attack was carried out in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, killing upwards of 70 civilians. The U.S. was quick to blame Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad, and, just a day later, President Trump launched 59 tomahawk missiles at the Shayrat airbase in retaliation, the first attempt by the U.S. to oust Assad. President Trump has been ambiguous on his position towards the Syrian civil war since the onset of the conflict, mirroring his vague position on a variety of other domestic and international issues like social security, flat taxes and American military torture.

Until March of this year, Trump demonstrated support for Assad and criticized former president Obama’s involvement in the issue. In various tweets from the President’s account, Trump stated that the U.S. should not get involved in another conflict in the Middle East, especially one backed by Russia. In addition, he stated that we should strive to be allies with Syria due to a shared interest in defeating ISIS. Following the chemical attacks, however, the Trump Administration made it clear that its position on Assad had changed.

For five days it appeared as though the White House had a new position: Assad is unfit to govern Syria. On April 9, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the U.S. would prioritize defeating ISIS first and then decide what to do about Syria. Yet on April 10, just a day later, the Trump Administration released a statement saying that the U.S. would not stand idly by while the Assad Regime used chemical weapons against civilians.

It is therefore fair to say that U.S. leadership has been, and will likely continue to be, indecisive when it comes to Syria. Thus, we, as students in the U.S., urgently need to take action through our education system to help displaced peoples from Syria succeed in transitioning.

In an effort to address the political and humanitarian turmoil perpetuated by the attacks in Syria and the current administration’s unclear responses, CRSA (Committee for Refugee Student Access) has finalized a project proposal outlining its mission and the necessary steps to recruit and admit refugee and displaced students to Macalester College. One of these essential steps is understanding the logistics of this project, both the financial and personal. Additionally, our outline looks at the specifics of identifying and cooperating with networks for refugee student recruitment. CRSA has highlighted various social media networks and national recruitment organizations that assist in facilitating the recruitment process.

The proposal also contains a section dedicated to student success at Macalester. The supporting community will be composed of Macalester community members, health and wellness, committee board members, administration and academic assistance. Our CRSA proposal ends with citations of case studies of similar projects at other elite universities.

After the recent completion of the project proposal, the next steps for the committee include turning attention to creating new community networks and strengthening the existing connections. CRSA recently sent out a call for resumes, as we look to identify and recruit new board members committed to working on the project and ensuring its long term success. If you wish to join our mailing list, email crsa.macalester@gmail.com, and please reach out to us with questions or suggestions as we launch into subsequent phases of this project.

April 21, 2017

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