Harvard senior Layla Amjadi ’10 challenged White House officials to develop a more specific plan for Sudan in a meeting in Washington, DC on Tuesday.
Acting in her capacity as the student director of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND), a national student anti-genocide coalition with a chapter at the University, Amjadi said the meeting indicates that the student group has been recognized as a “legitimate, real voice.”
The White House invited Amjadi, along with Save Darfur’s Executive Director Jerry Fowler, to meet Tuesday afternoon with Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration and Samantha Power, the National Security Council’s Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs.
The invitation came after Gration could not attend the “Pledge 2 Protect” conference on Sudan, convened by STAND last weekend.
The group’s fundraising coordinator Emily K. Cunningham ’13 said the fact that Amjadi was invited to such a high-level interview shows how powerful the larger student anti-genocide movement has become.
STAND members were asked to vote online to select five questions Amjadi would ask Gration and Power.
Members voted for Amjadi to ask the two administrators about issues ranging from how the administration would increase specificity and transparency to when people in refugee camps might be able to return home and how genocide might be prevented in the future.
“It is a good sign the administration is reaching out to us,” STAND communications director and George Washington University senior Sean Redding said. “But we have to make sure they know we are not just doing it for [public relations].”
The meeting, which was streamed live on STAND’s Web site as well as the White House Web site, generated many responses on STAND’s Twitter and Facebook pages. Most people expressed disappointment and called Power’s and Gration’s responses vague.
“I think one of our biggest frustrations is how unclear this administration has been and how behind the scenes they have been [about Sudan policy],” Amjadi said. Many STAND members campaigned for Obama last fall and are now frustrated with the administration’s lack of initiative in Sudan, she said.
“I was hoping for more specific explanations of how [the administration] would implement the Sudan Policy Review,” Cunningham said.
White House officials often say they cannot share more information about their plan for Sudan because certain items are classified, Amjadi said.
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