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Student Group Raises Awareness of Darfur Crisis

A new student group at Missouri State University called STAND, Students Taking Action Now-Darfur is trying to raise awareness about the crisis in the Sudan. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports. (KSMU's Christy Hendricks contributed to this report.)

When people think about college students they may not think of young adults working to make a difference in political affairs halfway across the world.

But a new student group at Missouri State University called STAND, Students Taking Action Now-Darfur is doing just that.

STAND helps raise awareness of the genocide in the Sudanese province of Darfur.

Katie Schmidt is the president of the local STAND chapter

She says the Sudanese government arms an Arab militia called the "janjaweed" to kill people in Darfur which is a province in western Sudan.

Many residents of Darfur have fled to nearby Chad.

It's a three-year conflict between black African tribes and Arab-speaking populations.

Katie Schmidt says she started the local STAND chapter after watching a documentary on campus in September.

The organization started in October and currently has 20 members.

Schmidt says there are over 600 STAND organizations across the country.

She says Students Taking Action Now-Darfur has four main goals.

Gary Brock is a professor of sociology at Missouri State University and the faculty advisor for STAND.

He says the group is entirely student led.

Brock says the group has spoken to the Springfield City Council, Central High School, several classes at Missouri State, as well as numerous other community and campus organizations.

He says it's often hard to get Americans to respond to international issues that are not environmental.

Kara Dial is the secretary for STAND.

Dial says students can help contribute to relief efforts in Darfur by participating in the national Darfur fast.

Kelbie Abercrombie is the vice-president for Students Taking Action Now-Darfur.

She says students listen when she tells them about the genocide in Sudan.

The members of Students Taking Action Now-Darfur say they are focusing on raising awareness of the genocide in Sudan and will hold a lecture series in March.