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Buffalo State College to offer temporary housing to Afghan evacuees utilizing Educational Opportunity Centers

Buffalo State College residence halls
Michael Mroziak
A view of some of the Buffalo State College on-campus residence halls. Some of the halls will be utilized as temporary housing for up to 100 Afghan evacuees who will be resettled in the Buffalo area.

Students at Buffalo State College will soon have some new neighbors on campus. Up to 100 Afghan evacuees will be welcomed to stay in temporary housing as part of their resettlement, Gov. Kathy Hochul and the college announced.

Hochul’s office announced that recent evacuees from Afghanistan will be granted access to the SUNY system’s Educational Opportunity Centers. This includes the ability to apply for free courses, credentialing programs and mentorship opportunities which develop skills that will help them in their eventual entry into the workforce.

Buffalo State College will provide the use of currently vacant dormitory space as temporary housing.

“Of course, we know that Afghan citizens that are coming are coming from quite a traumatic and significant turmoil in their own personal lives. And so the first thing is really, to get them settled in and get them comfortable,” said Buffalo State College President Dr. Kathleen Conway-Turner. “But ultimately, having new citizens as a part of our community is great for every person that comes on board, and for the community as we grow and develop as we move forward.”

A coalition of not-for-profit agencies known as Buffalo United for Afghan Evacuees will handle most of their other basic needs, but Conway-Turner says the college community will provide whatever else is needed. As she puts it, this effort is consistent with the college’s so-called JEDI values: justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.

“I think that our students will understand both how consistent this is to the work that we already do, and also the importance of reaching out and helping others in need,” she said. “I often tell our students that you're not just getting an education for your own personal growth, though that is wonderful and to provide for profession, but you're also getting an education to make the world a better place.”

A schedule had yet to be finalized. Evacuees ages 12 and older are expected to be vaccinated for COVID before arriving on campus.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.