When Congress passed the Displaced Persons (DP) Act in the summer of 1948, many DPs prepared to leave Europe for the United States. Thousands of young adults among them hoped to take advantage of educational opportunities there. In order to be eligible to immigrate under the provisions of the DP Act, however, they first needed to find American sponsors who would facilitate their resettlement in the US.1
On some American college and university campuses, students and faculty members set up organizations that assisted DPs who wanted to enroll in their schools. For instance, students at the University of Michigan founded the Committee for Displaced Students in order to help place DPs at the university. As noted in this student newspaper article from April 1949, a crucial aspect of the committee's work was to secure campus sponsors for DP students. Various student organizations fulfilled that role, but student groups like Theta Xi, the Lutheran Students Association, and the Panhellenic Organization did not just assist DP students financially. They also provided housing and a social support network, and they organized events to welcome DPs into the campus community.
The University of Michigan was far from the only school in the US where American student groups actively supported DP students. Groups similar to the University of Michigan's Committee for Displaced Students formed at other colleges and universities around the country. This included schools like Mississippi State University, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Barnard College in New York, Bennington College in Vermont, and Centenary College in Louisiana.2
Thanks to student-run groups, hundreds of college-aged DPs were able to pursue degrees at American institutions after immigrating to the United States. For many of them, this presented a crucial step in their journey of becoming Americans.3