On June 20, 2016, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees announced that the number of displaced persons in the world reached a record high at 65.3 million people. Of those displaced persons, one-third—or 21.3 million people—are refugees. In response to this humanitarian crisis, several communities nationwide, including two universities and the Holy Trinity Parish right outside our gates, have sponsored refugee families. Following this precedent, a petition began circulating in mid-February for Georgetown University to “provide housing, resources, and a support system to a refugee family in need.”
This editorial board believes that it is the moral imperative of the university to live up to its Jesuit ideals and sponsor a refugee family.
In alignment with Pope Francis’s call for “every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every shrine [to]accommodate one [refugee]family,” supporting the resettlement of a refugee family in Northwest D.C. would bring its core values of cura personalis and women and men for others into action. Standing at the intersection of academia and faith, this university has a duty to not only teach its Jesuit ideals, but to demonstrate them.
While it would be ideal for Georgetown to go beyond sponsorship, we recognize the limitations of the university as an institution to participate further in political affairs. Therefore, the responsibility for continuing this humanitarian work falls on the student body; signing the petition is simply the beginning. Students can partner with existing organizations that help resettle refugees and focus on the latter portion of the petition, that is, to “work collaboratively with the refugees through language training, resource gathering, and cultural adjustment.”
As a community, we must live our values and be active in the world around us. Sponsoring a refugee family is the first step towards this goal.