Undocumented students band together to share information at CSUMB.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Like to party? Join a frat. Policy wonk? Check out a political organization. Undocumented student? Now, at CSU Monterey Bay, there’s a campus club for that, too.
The Otter DREAM Association—TODA for short (toda means “all”)— was started last semester by psychology major Graciela Rizo. She wanted to create a support group for people like her—students tackling both finals and the latest immigration debates.
“I’m an undocumented student, and I’m not even well informed about the laws,” says Rizo, who graduated in the winter.
The DREAM Association has 17 members, probably five of whom are undocumented, Rizo says. It’s not always easy to tell, because students are often secretive about it. The association is a place to learn about immigration laws, educate the community and trade information like where to get cash-paying jobs.
CSUMB, by law, doesn’t track numbers of undocumented students, university spokesman James Tinney says.
In its inaugural semester, the club had an open house for interested high school students and community members, and also hosted a summit at the university.
“I take it as a very positive sign that these kinds of clubs are being established,” says Patricia Miranda, an immigration lawyer in Salinas. The momentum of immigration reform has reached the point where students can band together, even if members put themselves at some personal risk, she says.
On Jan. 1, a portion of the California DREAM Act went into effect, allowing undocumented students access to state-funded financial aid. This follows a law that last year granted them access to private scholarships.
“I’m glad kids who come after me will have the support I didn’t have,” Rizo says.