Arab students establish new club to create community

President+of+SAS+Hannah+Rose+Arafeh%2C+a+Junior.+
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Arab students establish new club to create community

President of SAS Hannah Rose Arafeh, a Junior.

President of SAS Hannah Rose Arafeh, a Junior.

John Bickers/Courtesy

President of SAS Hannah Rose Arafeh, a Junior.

John Bickers/Courtesy

John Bickers/Courtesy

President of SAS Hannah Rose Arafeh, a Junior.

Lilly Young, Cynic News Reporter

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A new club has formed at UVM that gives an isolated group a community, and they are hoping to be recognized by SGA this semester.

The Society of Arab Students meetings will be a place where Arab students can reconnect with their culture and re-spark that connection away from home, said junior Hannah Rose Arafeh, president of SAS.

Arafeh facilitates meetings by guiding discussions. She is also in charge of recruiting new members.

“[SAS] really came to fruition because being Arab at UVM is very isolating because there are aspects of our culture that are being completely ignored here, and so it was a need-based union,” Arafeh said.

Annie Stevens, vice provost for Student Affairs, said many underrepresented student groups may also feel the same way as Arafeh and SAS.

“The social connection that a club can offer really does matter and helps them see each other and really find a sense of belonging, even in a small way at a large university,” Stevens said.

In September 2017 UVM cut Arabic from its programming after the University did not renew the contract of professor Darius Jonathan, according to a Sept. 2017 Cynic Article.

“The University has done nothing to show Arab students that they are important or seen or valued. Especially with the removal of the Arabic language from the language department,” Arafeh said.

Stevens said she could not respond to the Arabic program’s cutting.

SAS is not recognized by SGA as an official club, but Arafeh said she is hoping that will change this semester.

Arafeh encourages any Arab students to join SAS.

“I don’t care if you just got your ancestry done and you’re 1% Lebanese or Syrian, just come,” Arafeh said.

Arafeh said that Arab students at UVM are taking a stand because they all have value, even if there is not a lot of them.

Meetings are held bi-weekly on Wednesdays in Living/Learning in the Leadership Room, but this could change.