Buffalo State College welcomes Afghan refugees


photo credit: SUNY Buffalo State College / Facebook

Cait Malilay, News Editor

In a campuswide email sent out to students Thursday evening, President Katherine Conway-Turner announced that the Tower residence hall complex will temporarily house Afghan refugees.

“I’m grateful that we have the opportunity to do our part to help these individuals and families make the transition to Buffalo by providing them with a safe place to make a new start,” Conway-Turner said.

The open dorm space is to house up to 100 refugees until resettlement agencies are able to find them secure housing.

It’s expected that anyone 12 years old and up will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before their arrival on campus.

The specific date of their arrival remains unclear, according to the email, but Buffalo State is prepared.

The school is also working with Buffalo United For Afghan Evacuees, a new coalition, made up of five local organizations, that formed last August “in response to the growing humanitarian challenge caused by the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the subsequent evacuation of Afghans to the United States.”

SUNY’s 10 Educational Opportunity Centers is offering free courses, certificate and credentialing programs and mentorship opportunities to the incoming refugees, waiving the New York State 1-year residency requirement for admission.

Buffalo State and SUNY will provide excess laptops to help them access education programming.

“This is a call to action, to uphold our state’s proud history of sheltering evacuees from persecution and violence. The arduous journey that thousands of Afghans have taken over the last few weeks is not the end, but rather the beginning of a new chapter that we can help them write,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Yesterday, the Civic and Community Engagement invited students to join them in Caudell Hall to help make care packages filled with products for incoming refugees to be donated to the International Institute of Buffalo, one of the five organizations that comprise Buffalo United For Afghan Evacuees.

Desiray, an alumna of Buffalo State and member of Project M.O.V.E Buffalo who was in charge of the event, says that the plan for making care packages started back in August, so it was perfect timing.

Even though it was not originally organized for the incoming Afghan refugees staying at Buffalo State specifically, she says that hosting another event and making care packages for them could happen in the near future.

“We’re excited and we are happy that we can help them in any way that we could to make them feel more comfortable and get adjusted to life in Buffalo,” she said.

Buffalo is just one of the 19 eligible cities recommended by the U.S. State Department to accept refugees because of factors such as its reasonable cost of living and supportive services.

The Civic and Community Engagement is still accepting donations, including unopened shampoo, conditioner, soap and feminine hygiene products.

For more information, contact the Civic and Community Engagement office at (716) 878-3919.

For those interested in helping support Buffalo United For Afghan Evacuees directly, please visit their website.