As we head into the Thanksgiving holidays, my heart goes out to the 68 Sonoma State University students, staff and faculty who lost their homes in the October fires. The Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino county fires were devastating and catastrophic, with victims only now beginning the long process of healing from this tragedy. I encourage everyone to think about those affected and use this time of gratitude to reach out to those who may be most in need.
In early September, I shared my extreme disappointment in President Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and I have reaffirmed my strong support for the Cal State East Bay students, faculty and staff impacted by this cruel and heartless decision. Today, I want to focus our attention on how we can continue empowering these members of our campus in the coming months.
In the fall quarter, Cal State East Bay launched two campaigns aimed at raising awareness about the services and resources available to our undocumented students. During the #DEFENDDACA and #PROTECTDREAMERS campaigns, more than 500 postcards expressing support to pass the DREAM Act were collected from faculty, staff and students, and mailed to members of Congress.
With the help of our campus community, we have made academic and financial resources available to our DREAMer students. Through workshops and on-campus groups such as Gaining Access ‘N Academic Success, more commonly known as GANAS, and our guide to resources for undocumented students, we have been proactive in reaching out to those in need.
Since 2015, Cal State East Bay has participated in TheDream.US, the largest access and support program for undocumented students who aspire to attend college in our country. Students receive up to $29,000 in scholarships to help them achieve their dream of a college education. Currently, 21 scholarship recipients are enrolled on campus and two awardees have successfully graduated with their bachelor’s degrees.
Time is running out, however, as the ability for our undocumented students and staff to stay in the United States legally ends March 5, 2018. As of now, Senator Kamala Harris has agreed to refuse any budget plan that does not include assistance for DREAMer students. I urge you to join me in speaking out on this issue and to express to your district member of Congress or senator that our DREAMer students, staff and faculty be allowed to stay permanently. Our university thrives as a result of our diversity and community, and it is incumbent upon each of us to challenge our lawmakers to stand up with us all.