Ad Hoc Committee Report Addresses Needs of DACA/Undocumented Students; Implementation of Immediate Recommendations Now Complete
Appointed by Chancellor Kent Syverud in February, the Ad Hoc Committee on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)/Undocumented Students recently delivered its report to the Chancellor. The comprehensive report includes immediate, short-term and long-term recommendations to enhance support for undocumented students and others with family members who are undocumented.
Upon receiving and reviewing the report, Chancellor Syverud tasked the appropriate campus offices with implementation of the following immediate recommendations:
- Provide impacted students with specific contact information for campus support;
- Identify career advising expertise for graduating students that takes into consideration their unique circumstances;
- Assemble an institutional immediate action team that responds to urgent scenarios and provides emergency response, legal and academic advice, and education to the campus community; and
- Identify a specialized legal expert and provide impacted students access to advice and assistance.
All of the aforementioned recommendations have been completed; the relevant contact information and support services can be found by visiting diversity.syr.edu.
“I am deeply appreciative of the comprehensive and thoughtful work of the Ad Hoc Committee,” says Chancellor Syverud. “Now that the immediate recommendations have been implemented, it is important that we continue to engage impacted students and others. I encourage the campus community to read the entire report, offer feedback, and participate in the process. Our collective focus must be to ensure that all students feel welcome, safe, and supported, including those who came to this country as children, were raised and educated here, but are undocumented.”
The Ad Hoc Committee, comprised of students, faculty, and many of the University staff who provide direct support to students, described its assignment as a “step forward in recognizing the unique needs of our undocumented and DACA students, as well as the similar needs of our students with mixed-status family members.” The entire report is available here.
Chaired by Jennifer Mathews, director of undergraduate international admissions, and Michele “Shelly” Sipley, director of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Programs, the committee acknowledged that the challenges facing these students are fluid and the recommendations reflect a “snapshot of the needs.” They recommended the creation of a permanent committee to include students, faculty, and staff, and chaired by a liaison/single point of contact to be responsive to the ongoing needs of the community.
Noting that conversations with current DACA and undocumented students were vital to the formation of the recommendations, the committee also offered a number of strategies to meet short and longer-term needs. Among those strategies are:
- creating a permanent committee with a formal structure for oversight and accountability, led by a highly visible individual who maintains a strong campus support network, connects personally with the affected individuals, and hosts conversation hours.
- establishing a webpage as a portal to communications, including standardized language reinforcing the welcoming nature of the campus, links to campus resources, information about scholarships, and specific contact information.
- providing professional development training to faculty and staff who regularly work with this population, as well as to teaching assistants and student leaders.
- developing a campaign aimed at establishing a legacy scholarship fund for DACA/undocumented students. Use these endowed funds to increase the number of undocumented students admitted to the University to contribute to the institution’s mission of being an inclusive and diverse community.
The Ad Hoc Committee noted that its members were powerfully moved by hearing the stories and perspectives of impacted students, and that the University has a “responsibility to empower all of our students with a safe, supportive learning community and the opportunity to share their unique ideas and experiences.” Members of the Ad Hoc Committee included:
- Patricia Burak, director of the Slutzker Center for International Services
- Myrna García-Calderón, associate professor, Spanish
- Walt Donner, graduate student, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
- Huey Hsiao, associate director of Multicultural Affairs
- Andrew Kim, associate professor, College of Law
- Missy Mathis-Hanlon, interim director of the Parents Office
- Margaret Himley, associate provost for International Education and Engagement
- Diasia Kittrell-Robinson, junior, College of Arts and Sciences
- Martin Lopez-Galicia, senior, College of Arts and Sciences
- Amy Lutz, associate professor, Sociology
- Gladys McCormick, assistant professor, History
- Vernon Thompson, commander, DPS
- Kizzie P. Walker, staff therapist and multicultural outreach specialist
The Ad Hoc Committee conducted extensive research and explored best practices at several peer institutions. This research guided the committee’s process as it sought to address DACA/Undocumented students’ needs from application through graduation and beyond, while striving to produce recommendations that align with institutional goals, as well as the mission of the Council on Diversity and Inclusion.