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Letter to the Editor: UCLA administration must increase support for Undocumented Student Program

By Submission

Jan. 25, 2018 5:36 p.m.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated Elizabeth Lizardo and Jose Ocampo were external chairperson of the Community Programs Office Student Association and Academic Affairs Commission representative of the Campus Retention Committee, respectively. In fact, Lizardo and Ocampo are chairperson of the Community Programs Office Student Association and chairperson of Campus Retention Committee, respectively.

Since fall quarter, we have met with campus administrators to formulate viable solutions for one of our most vulnerable communities at UCLA: undocumented students. While our nation’s politics around immigration remain chaotic, we believe UCLA is in a position to exemplify its “Principles of Community” and institutionalize financial support for this marginalized student population.

After many conversations with administrators, however, we have realized that we need creativity and urgency to enact change on campus.

This week, students took it upon themselves to secure support for undocumented students at Tuesday’s Undergraduate Students Association Council meeting. From the public comments period until the end of the meeting, Kerckhoff 417 was filled with students from diverse communities, including the Campus Retention Committee, Community Programs Office Student Association, Pacific Islands’ Student Association, Vietnamese Student Union, Latinas Guiding Latinas and Latino Student Health Project. Our collective advocacy resulted in the allocation of $100,000 of the USAC student fees surplus to the UCLA Undocumented Student Program to provide necessary resources for undocumented students on campus.

The council’s unanimous vote is significant because it showcases the importance of student voices in enacting change through student government. Like many other students across the country, we have felt compelled to support our community members in the wake of President Donald Trump’s repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Our effort to better fund USP was necessary to address challenges many of our friends and classmates face because of the Trump administration’s immigration decisions.

Although the administration may hesitate to put its own dollars into action, our success in advocating for the allocation of the USAC surplus to USP shows the student body cares deeply about this pressing issue and we can make a tangible difference on campus. Prior to this week’s USAC meeting, we met with Monroe Gorden, Jr., interim vice chancellor of student affairs; Mick Deluca, assistant vice chancellor of campus life; Ina Sotomayor, senior associate director of financial aid; and Abel Valenzuela, Jr., advisor to the chancellor on immigration policy, to discuss how the university could financially support undocumented students. Given their vocalized commitments to us in finding solutions, we hope that our actions now inspire them to collaborate – and without delay.

UCLA has a unique opportunity to be a national leader in efforts to defend and support undocumented students. As students, we have put our money where our mouths are. The UCLA administration should do the same and help us institutionalize these efforts moving forward.

Elizabeth Lizardo, fifth-year anthropology student and chairperson of the Community Programs Office Student Association

Jose Ocampo, fourth-year sociology student and chairperson of the Campus Retention Committee

Fernanda Romero, second-year Chicana/o studies student

Karla Thomas, third-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student and president of Pacific Islands’ Student Association

Lenh Voong, fifth-year anthropology student and president of Vietnamese Student Union

Richard White, third-year political science student and chairperson of the Student Fee Advisory Committee

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