Students called on the UCLA Undocumented Student Program to create more scholarships and improve resources for undocumented students at a town hall event Thursday.
USP, which received $100,000 from the Undergraduate Students Association Council’s surplus funds last month, hosted a town hall to receive student feedback on where to allocate the money. Several students who attended the event said they think USP should create scholarships specific to undocumented students, expand transportation subsidies and improve resources like the program’s textbook library.
Andrew McClure, the associate director of the Bruin Resource Center, said the town hall was meant to discern students’ opinions and involve them in the program’s decision-making.
“As an office, we have ideas for how it’s spent, but ultimately students should make the decision,” he said.
The funds come from a university accounting error that led to USAC failing to receive certain student fees for the past three years. However, money from student fees is not allowed to be used for scholarships aimed at specific student populations, such as undocumented students, said Paolo Velasco, the Bruin Resource Center’s director.
Several students said they were concerned about the limitations on how the money could be spent.
The distribution restrictions are problematic because they force scholarships to be inclusive of all students, even though undocumented students are excluded from other funding sources, said an Improving Dreams, Equality, Access and Success at UCLA board member. The board member hoped to help undocumented students specifically.
Despite the restrictions, students said USP should find creative ways to implement scholarships for undocumented students struggling the most financially.
Some students suggested USP make a scholarship open to all populations but prioritize undocumented applicants by making application questions specific to the experiences of undocumented students.
Other students added they think the funds should also be used to expand resources already provided by the office, such as its free legal counseling, textbook library program, meal vouchers and transportation subsidies for undocumented students.
Nicole Corona Diaz, USAC general representative 1 and an undocumented student, said she thinks the program should expand its meal voucher program to fight on-campus food insecurity.
“Meal vouchers are always great, but if you don’t always have time to go to (get meals) on the Hill, making food available in a different location may make it more accessible to undocumented students,” she said.
USP staffers also proposed creating a $100,000 endowment and added the earnings would be reinvested into USP.
However, several students said they think the funds should be used to provide immediate aid for undocumented students. Some students said they felt the need for aid is urgent because of the ongoing threat of deportations.
Velasco said USP will also conduct online surveys to gather more student input, and added they plan to set up an additional meeting to finalize spending decisions.