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OU's Farzaneh Family Center expands scholarship fund for Iranian students amid travel ban

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Farzaneh Hall (copy)

Farzaneh Hall on campus Nov. 19. Farzaneh Hall houses the Farzaneh Family Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies.

The Farzaneh Family Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies recently expanded a scholarship fund supporting Iranian students amid the ongoing travel ban and sanctions against the country.

Afshin Marashi, director of the Farzaneh Family Center, said the fund existed previously but was expanded after the existing fund was almost expended. The scholarship benefits international students from Iran who have been affected by travel restrictions implemented by the Trump administration.

“The Farzaneh (family) has really stood up and expanded their contribution to the scholarship,” Marashi said. “Iranian students have become innocent bystanders, they’re victims in the crossfire of this conflict between the government of the United States and the government of Iran.”

The donation will provide a $1,000 scholarship to 53 students, said Patsy Broadway, director of administration at OU’s College of International Studies. Marashi said the scholarship helps cover both educational and personal expenses due to the difficulty of transferring funds from Iran and finding reliable employment in the U.S. as a non-citizen.

“It’s very difficult, almost impossible, to transfer money from home to the United States because of the sanctions that have been imposed,” Marashi said. “Students who previously were able to rely on their families can no longer do so, and what we’re trying to do is everything we can to alleviate some of that.”

Marashi said the scholarship will hopefully help give Iranian students a feeling of security as tensions between the U.S. and their home country continue.

“It takes a terrible toll, and the students in some ways are really struggling (emotionally and psychologically),” Marashi said. “There’s a kind of anti-immigrant targeting that comes with that travel ban, but the Iranian students that come here ... come here because they want opportunity that they can’t find in Iran.”

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