As a senior in college, I thought I knew exactly how it felt to be short on cash. In my mind, I found myself stressing out about how I would pay for my next tank of gas, next box of macaroni and cheese, or my personal favorite, my next bottle of wine.

But let’s stop and think about that for a moment.

While all three of those things are valid and true staples in my life, I absolutely cringe at myself when I read articles like The Cost of Syrian Refugees, from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace or, even better, How to Build a Perfect Refugee Camp from the New York Times.

Somehow, facts and figures like, “Expenditures at the Kilis Camp run to at least $2 million a month” or “By the end of 2013, the Turkish government had spent $2.5 billion on its Syrian guests, primarily in camps” are ever so causally dropped here and there, as if those numbers are not even “real.”

But the thing is what is happening in refugee camps (physically, mentally, economically, etc) …it is real. Very real.

So, what about this fact: The temporary dining hall, “D-Hub,” to be located in the baseball parking lot of JMU has an $80.7 million budget and two-year demolition and reconstruction plan.

And that is not to be confused with the other $57 million spent on the expansion and renovation projects in the university recreational center.

If you are not shaking your head right now then you must have missed my point. So let me spell it out for you: money sucks.

Money sucks because it seems like nobody has any and yet it is in funneled into all the wrong places.

Can you imagine if the total of $137.7 million JMU spent on dining and recreational facilities was spent on any of the refugee crises happening in multiple countries around the world?

Not only could the millions of dollars be comfortably divided among countries and camps, but it could also essentially boost, if not completely start, entire economies.

I’m no math magician (yes, I realize it is mathematician), but I think I could be on to something.

This is a call to action.

From now on, every time I stress over affording a petty bottle of cab-sav, I am going to put aside one dollar to donate to refugee aid. By the end of the semester, I will see just how much of a drinking problem I might have, but also how much I was able to easily raise money (even if it is just a little) for something I really, truly care about.

I hope you can join me.

Join me in a way that makes sense to you.

There are endless ways to donate, you just have to decide and commit to how you want to do it.  Money is stupid, but money is out there.

Ways to DONATE.


-Whitney Roberts


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