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“They’re taking away from us [students with physical disabilities], the most historic and symbolic tradition the university has.”
The University of Georgia and Georgia’s Muslim community lost one of their youngest leaders on July 8th when Khaled Alsafadi passed away during the last ten nights of Ramadan. Khaled, who graduated from UGA in the spring of 2014 with a degree in Psychology, was a source of inspiration to many in the community and leaves behind a legacy of service and justice. His impact is clear from his Facebook profile alone as family, friends, and the UGA student body have left a heavy outpouring of warm sentiments, prayers and memories since his passing.
As one of the founders of UGA’s Make the Arch Accessible campaign, a campaign which gathered over 6,000 signatures on their petition, Khaled fought to make UGA’s Arch accessible for all of the university’s mobility-impaired students. UGA’s iconic Arch is part of a long-standing graduation tradition and has never been accessible to mobility-impaired students for over 150 years.
“The Arch is very symbolic, and this would symbolize the university’s efforts to include the whole UGA family,” Alsafadi said. “People with wheelchairs, people with walkers, people with canes, we should all have equal access to it.”
“I knew Khaled and I deeply admired Khaled for his advocacy at UGA to enhance access for people with mobility challenges,” said Associate Dean Dr. Alan Campbell in a letter to Khaled’s father. “I have spoken with a number of colleagues today who join me in grieving Khaled’s untimely passing and who also remember Khaled fondly for his advocacy and for his spirit.”
Khaled, who had muscular dystrophy and used a wheelchair, was never able to cross under the Arch as a graduating senior last year, but his selfless spirit never stopped his work.
"I understand that it's not going to be done by the time I graduate,” Khaled said in an interview in UGA’s student newspaper. “I'll have to come back and go through it, but what I really want to do is to leave something behind for all other students, so they are able to go through it.”
Carden Wyckoff co-launched the Make UGA’s Arch Accessible campaign with Khaled and was a close friend. Her words on Khaled resonated with many:
“Khaled was a soul that truly connected with causes and people,” said friend Dalal Hillou. “He cared so much about bettering not only the local community, but also the wider Muslim and Syrian communities in addition to those he know personally. It's difficult to describe him in words because, I think what he was is something very special - a person who truly put the well-being of others before himself, and wanted to make the world a better place.”
Below are the links to the Make UGA’s Arch Accessible Facebook page as well as news coverage on the campaign aired last spring on Channel 12 news.
Khaled’s selfless spirit, compassion, and unwavering persistence regardless of the obstacles and challenges thrown at him serves as a source of inspiration to all that met him or know his story. We ask God to grant him the highest level of Paradise and to ease the pain of Khaled’s family, friends and all those that he touched. And we ask Him to allow us all to learn the deeper lessons and wisdom of Khaled Alsafadi’s mission of service.Tweet this article out
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