How some university students feel about the refugee crisis by Monika Faltová

This survey of opinions has been carried out by first and second year students on our Messenger team. The aim of this article was not an exact analysis of the answers in the questionnaire. We were interested in the diverse opinions of our respondents. We wanted to find out more about what students think. We used the questionnaire as a tool that might get these answers to us in the most convenient and practical way.

We created a questionnaire that asked for students’ opinions. Our main questions were: Should the Czech Republic accept refugees? What are the ways of helping?

We gathered 50 responses, from 39 women and 11 men. The majority of respondents were from the Czech Republic, although we also managed to ask people from the UK, Russia, Ukraine and Slovakia. There is great diversity among the students, who come from a variety of schools. So not only MU is represented in this questionnaire, but also VUT, UPOL (Olomouc) and Charles University (Prague). Given the fact that the respondents were students, the age range is between 19 and 30.

So what do they think?

The first open question concernedwhether or not the Czech Republic should accept refugees. The responses varied, from ones strictly against the acceptance of refugees to ones welcoming them. What were the reasons for not accepting refugees? Some students feel that it would be hard to integrate refugees, provide them with an education and make them respect our culture. The respondents fear that the refugees will ruin our country by their traditions and behaviour. Some of the respondents pointout the inability of our government to take care of its own people, let alone others. This opinion about not accepting refugees is shared by 28% of respondents. 14% of students do not know if the Czech Republic should accept them or not. They understand how difficult it must be to flee one’s homeland because of war, but they believe that there are safe places not so far from there. Some of the respondents are concerned about the refugees being mainly men. Some express the concern that refugees may be terrorists.

The majority of respondents – 58% percent of students – show sympathy towards the refugees and their acceptance in the Czech Republic. The students are aware of the fact that the refugees are running away from war. The respondents believe that if it wasn´t for the war, the refugees would not decide to flee their homes. These respondents also emphasize that if we were in their place, we would also expect any help possible from other countries. For some students, it is a question of morality to help other people in need. For others, it is loyalty towards the European Union. They think that the European Union has helped us a lot and that we should repay the favour.

Most of the respondents agree on one thing: if the Czech Republic is to accept refugees, Czechs should be allowed to decide how many of them will be taken in and who these will be. 48% of students who answered our questionnaire feel that only those refugees who can work here should be accepted. These respondents also believe that there is a need for these refugees to identify themselves and to prove that they really are from an area of war, and that they are not just taking advantage of this situation to find another place to live. In contrast to these opinions, 24% of respondents feel that help should be provided to anyone who asks for it. The remaining 28% of students are against the acceptance of the refugees in the first place. These respondents do not specify why.

In question 7 we asked the students about ways of helping refugees. 82% of the students mentioned donating clothes or money, voluntary work in refugee camps or providing shelter for refugees. The remaining 18% students did not know. And how many of our respondents are helping refugees in any way? That was the next question in our questionnaire. In spite of the fact that more than a half of our respondents seem to be for helping refugees, only 12% of these 58% are doing something by themselves. These students either donate money or clothes. The remaining 88% are not yet helping in any way, and 5% are not even interested.

In connection with the refugee crisis, we asked whether or not our students would be interested in an optional course. The aim of the course would be to provide the latest information, lead discussion or even initiate voluntary work. 22% of students showed interest in this, whereas the rest of the respondents had no interest in this subject either because of lack of time or the controversial nature of the topic, their biggest fear being the lack of objectivity of such a course.

The last question tested our respondents’ knowledge of the issue in question. We asked which organisations are helping refugees. Only 24% students claimed not to know any. The rest of the students named the Red Cross, the OPU and Medecins sans Frontieres.

In conclusion, with an issue as big as this there are no right answers, just opinions. I am happy to say that our respondents are not afraid of expressing their ideas, discussing them and defending them. It is important that we, as students, do not close our eyes to the world’s great problems.

If you are interested, the questions were:

  1. Sex
  2. Age
  3. Nationality
  4. Which university do you study at?
  5. What is your opinion on the whole refugee crisis? Do you agree with the Czech Republic accepting refugees? Please write your reasons.
  6. If you answered positively to question 5, can you be more specific? (e.g. accepting refugees of war only, or immigrants with education useful for the Czech Republic)
  7. Do you have any knowledge of ways of helping refugees? Give us examples.
  8. Are you helping in any way?
  9. Would you welcome an optional course at your school on this topic? Information about the current situation, voluntary work etc.

10. Can you name any organization which is dealing with help for refugees?