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Students Live in Simulated Refugee Camp on Campus Week of 5/18 to Draw Attention to Darfur Genocide

--Will Inhabit Makeshift Tents with Limited Provisions during Finals Week; U.S. Congressman Gregory Meeks and Other Notables Express Their Support--
                                               

FLUSHING, N.Y., May 19, 2009—Over a dozen Queens College students are living in makeshift tents—with only enough provisions that can fit into their backpacks—until Friday, May 22, in a simulated refugee camp to bring attention to the violence, genocide, rape, starvation and other conditions faced by the displaced people of Darfur in western Sudan.

The REFUGEE CAMPus project is the brainchild of Jennifer Polish. Polish and the other students living in the encampment are members of STAND, an international student-based coalition with over 700 chapters, whose mission is to prevent and stop global genocide through education, advocacy and fundraising. In March and April, the college’s STAND students organized a “die-in” on campus to bring attention to the suffering in the region.

As a result of a March 4 indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir for crimes against humanity, the Khartoum government banned 16 humanitarian organizations from providing assistance to the refugee camps in Darfur.  Over 1 million displaced Darfuri civilians stopped receiving food aid, and 500,000 more lost access to health, nutrition services and drinkable water supplies. The current risk of starvation, illness and disease spreading throughout the camps will be aggravated with the impending rainy season later this month.

Throughout the week, STAND members will engage fellow students, faculty and the community in educational events, discussions, petition-signing, and musical expression. The Queens College camp site is located in front of Remsen Hall at the west end of the campus Quadrangle. For directions to campus, visit http://www.qc.cuny.edu/about/directions.php

The week’s events include:

Monday, May 18  
7:45 am – 12 noon  STAND students set up camp
   
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm Speakers:
James L. Muyskens, Queens College president

Mark Levy, 1960s civil rights activist and Queens College alum

U.S. Congressman Gregory Meeks (NY’s 6th District–Southeast Queens) sent greetings.

Sharon Silber, Co-founder of NYC Coalition for Darfur

STAND members spoke out on the importance of student activism; read statements of support from Yoko Ono and John Prendergast, co-founder of the ENOUGH Project, organized by the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity

Rabbi Moses Birnbaum of Kew Garden Hills Jewish Center

High school students, including a journalism class from Townsend Harris, were in attendance.

   
Tuesday, May 19  
3:00 pm  QC History Professor Grace Davie addresses the impact of student anti-apartheid movement on life in South Africa.
   
Wednesday, May 20  
10:00 am  QC Secondary Education Professor Lillian Moncada-Davidson discusses the importance of independent thought and action by students to create change.
   
4:30 pm QC Political Science Professor Francois Pierre-Louis will talk about international politics of genocidal occurrences.
   
Thursday, May 21  
10:00 am    QC Political Science Professor Peter Lieberman will provide insight on potential roles of US foreign policy to combat genocide.
   
10:30 am CCNY Professor Yaa-Lengi Ngemi, director of research of the New York-based African Research and Educational Institute, Inc., will address  ongoing atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo and what students can do to help stop these events.       
   
8:00 pm   Interfaith discussion, songs, and prayers among students.
   
Friday, May 22  
  STAND students break camp, leaving behind symbolic tombstones.

 
 

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