Meet the Inspiring Committee Members of UKC STAR: Standing up for Refugee Rights

Refugee Week 2023 logo and photos of STAR committee members

The Student Action for Refugees (STAR) society at Kent is a remarkable student-led organisation that advocates for refugee rights and fostering a welcoming environment for refugees and asylum seekers on campus. With a rich history that traces back to its inception at the University of Nottingham almost thirty years ago, STAR has evolved into a national network of student groups across the UK comprising of around 34,000 students. The committee members of UKC STAR are passionate individuals who actively campaign, fundraise, and volunteer to challenge hostile government policies and support those in need. Let’s meet the inspiring voices behind this dedicated team.

Ewen Rivallain – President:

“I am the newly elected President of UKC Student Action for Refugees, dedicated to fostering a welcoming environment for refugees and asylum seekers on campus.”

Ewen, the newly elected President of UKC Student Action for Refugees, is committed to creating a welcoming environment for refugees and asylum seekers on campus. With a focus on member engagement and community projects, Ewen and UKC STAR are determined to make a difference in the lives of those in need.

Cassandra Ross – Vice President:

“I wish to aid refugees in any way possible and to encourage people to join us in doing so.”

Cassandra, a third-year student in Politics and International Relations, is the Vice President of UKC STAR. Her genuine interest in understanding the struggles faced by the refugee community motivated her to join the committee. Cassandra’s primary goal is to raise awareness about refugee issues on campus and help create a more welcoming environment for refugees in the UK.

Marie Legraverend – Secretary:

“We have a lot of ideas to get you involved in creating a welcoming environment for refugees in Canterbury and in the UK in general.”

As the upcoming Kent STAR Secretary, Marie, a 3rd-year Politics and International Relations student, is deeply committed to resolving the human rights issues surrounding refugees. Having previously served as the Treasurer, Marie is passionate about raising awareness, volunteering, campaigning, and fundraising. She invites everyone to join in their efforts to make a difference.

Leah Tesfu – Marketing and Collaboration Coordinator:

“I joined STAR as I wanted to be a part of a society that brings about positive change.”

Leah, a final year Biomedical Science student, serves as the Marketing and Collaboration Coordinator for Kent STAR. Drawn to STAR’s mission of building a more understanding and just society for refugees, Leah is eager to contribute to the society’s initiatives and projects. The clothes donation point project is particularly close to her heart, as it provides support to refugees while reducing waste on campus.

Romain Picon – Events Officer:
“If you want to start making a difference today, you can donate your old clothes at the various clothes donation points on campus.”

Romain, a third-year student in Politics and International Relations from Bordeaux, France, discovered STAR last year as a volunteer. Inspired by attending talks on refugees and participating in protests against proposed government legislation, Romain is determined to continue taking action. He encourages others to join in the efforts to support refugee rights and help those in indefinite immigration detention.

Refugee Week at Kent
Refugee Week (19-25 June) presents an excellent opportunity to develop compassion in action. For students still on campus, you can come along to a series of events on Wednesday 25 June, or walk the Refugee Tales trail any time over the summer. These initiatives not only provide a platform to reflect on the challenges faced by refugees and asylum seekers during their journeys but also offer an opportunity to celebrate the rich diversity and cultural heritage they bring. On their Instagram account, UKC STAR is also actively engaging in the week by focusing on one Simple Act per day.

If you’d like to find out more about STAR at Kent or join the society, have a look at their Kent Union page.