Administrative officials express support for undocumented students at Mason DREAMers event

DREAMer explains situation of undocumented students to students and faculty (photo by Niki Papadogiannakis)
DREAMer explains situation of undocumented students to students and faculty (photo by Niki Papadogiannakis)

Leaders from multiple Mason administrative offices expressed their support and listened to student suggestions for proposed aid to undocumented students at a panel discussion this Monday.

“We want to fully support Mason DREAMers because their goals are [University Life’s] goals," said Rose Pascarell, vice president of University Life, who was on the panel.

Mason DREAMers, the student organization that allies with and advocates for undocumented students, hosted Immigration 201 in SUB I on Monday, Nov. 4 at 6 p.m. They presented models from other universities that provide resources for undocumented students and accepted questions and suggestions from the audience about their impressions of how undocumented students are treated and what can be done better.

“Help me make a list tonight,” Pascarell said to the audience.

Currently, Mason accepts students with undocumented status. However, President of Mason DREAMers Jorge Velasquez noted that when a student looks online for information about undocumented students at Mason, the search comes up blank and they are redirected to information about international students.

Pascarell insists that the lack of this information is due to the former lack of demand for it and that student initiatives can aid administration in creating the sufficient resources. The same kind of initiative created the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning Resources Office amid political tensions similar to those of undocumented students, Pascarell said.

"I promise you," Pascarell said to the audience. "We'll respond more effectively as a response to this."

The panelists made note of the politics and regulations in place that restrain them from alleviating problems involving lack of information.

”We live in a state where basically the legislation handcuffs us in this process,” said Matt Boyce, senior associate director of admissions. “A lot of what we have to do is push legislation forward.”

The members of the Mason DREAMers suggested several areas of improvement and asked the panelists to explain how Mason is handling each area. The areas included encouragement of undocumented student enrollment, alleviation of financial aid burden and increased student resources and success.

The members also addressed some problems that undocumented students run into when applying to Mason, including having to pay out-of-state tuition, not being able to apply for financial aid and not having a clear path or access to people who a know how to handle undocumented students. 

As a way to provide solutions while working around the current laws Velasquez suggested looking at other institutions, such as the University of Michigan, as models for expanding access to undocumented students.

The panel consisted of Pascarell, LaMan Dantzler, associate university registrar for certification in the office of the university registrar, Corey Jackson, vice president of compliance, diversity and ethics, equity and diversity services, Matt Boyce, senior associate director of admissions, and Philip Hunt, director of development for access initiatives.

Mason DREAMers held Immigration 101 on Oct. 28 in the Johnson Center where they discussed the national implications of the Dream Act, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival and the comprehensive immigration bill with a panel of lawyers, advocates and other community members. 

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