CW: This article references violence in Afghanistan. Please refer to the end of the article for on- and off-campus resources.
On Aug. 21, four Georgetown University Student Association senators released the Statement of Solidarity and Call to Action to Support the People of Afghanistan. Georgetown University is too interconnected with the Afghan American community and Afghans across the world to remain silent during the crisis precipitated by the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan. Georgetown community members must support Afghans — especially women, ethnic minorities, children and those that identify as LGBTQ+ — who are most impacted by the Taliban’s onslaught of violence and danger. Since August, much has changed, but the basic facts remain true: The Taliban’s promises to afford women some rights prove empty, and its cruel system of punishment for sodomy and fornication led LGBTQ+ Afghans to brutalization or public execution.
We cannot ignore the impact of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after a 20-year military occupation. Aug. 30 marked a full U.S. withdrawal of troops — an exit that was conducted hastily and with little regard for the U.S. workers and Afghans on Special Immigrant Visas who were left behind. Many Afghans who requested evacuation and immigration assistance are receiving little to no support from the United States, while the Taliban continues to terrorize innocent civilians through suicide attacks after claiming victory and establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
Georgetown’s curriculum must give students a well-rounded perspective on the conflict by emphasizing the role the United States has played historically and in the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Understanding the ramifications of U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and many other countries is especially crucial for preparing students to enter the foreign service. Georgetown should also consider offering Afghan students, and especially Afghan women, visas to attend its main campus and Georgetown University in Qatar. Sponsoring Afghan scholars is a core example of Georgetown’s value of cura personalis.
Georgetown has many other ways to support the Afghan community, including hiring Afghan faculty and centering Afghans’ identities in public discourse by featuring Afghan stories and voices in events, publications and media. By doing so, Georgetown can create a safer environment for Afghan students and community members and reaffirm that they are deserving of respect and safety. Further, professors and deans must be more flexible with their Afghan students. Many are trying to save their loved ones or mourning the loss of their beloved country and family members. The university should also consider increasing funding for the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security’s recent initiatives to prioritize research on Afghan women and girls.
Some members of the Georgetown community have taken substantial steps to show solidarity with the Afghan people. Students like Tara Nouri (SFS ’22), a member of the refugee awareness campaign No Lost Generation Georgetown, have been soliciting donations of clothing and school and household supplies on campus. Zahra Wakilzada (SFS ’23), an Afghan refugee, has partnered with different charities helping Afghanistan’s displaced population and fundraised to cover the costs of evacuating her activist family members in Afghanistan. GIWPS recently co-hosted a March for Afghan Women that called on the Biden administration to take immediate action to protect Afghan women during the evacuation of Kabul.
We implore members of the Georgetown community to show their support for Afghanistan in any way they can, whether by donating to the supply drive on campus — taking donations through bins in ICC 301 and the lobbies of Ida Ryan & Isaac Hawkins Hall and Village C West — helping Afghan student initiatives or contributing to refugee organizations outside of Georgetown. For those who are able to contribute monetary donations, many organizations currently provide frontline aid to Afghans in need, including a campaign on Spot Fund, which helps Afghan activists evacuate the country; the International Rescue Committee, providing lifesaving aid to areas of conflict; Afghanaid, providing support for families who have lost their homes and livelihoods; Afghan Women and Children Health and Education Foundation, protecting women and children in Afghanistan; and GoFundMe projects such as Children Without Borders and Watan Project’s Urgent Crisis Relief fundraiser. There are also many opportunities to help Afghan refugees in the Washington, D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, including through organizations like Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, which plans to assist in the resettlement of 800 individuals in two months, or by participating in protests and urging your representatives to welcome more refugees from Afghanistan. We encourage members of the Georgetown community to take action in any way possible in these times of crisis.
Nirvana Khan is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. Leo Rassieur is a senior in the School of Foreign Service. Zahra Wakilzada is a junior in the School of Foreign Service.
Resources: On-campus resources include Health Education Services (202-687-8949) and Counseling and Psychiatric Service (202-687-7080); additional off-campus resources include the District of Columbia Office of Refugee Resettlement (202-698-4316).