Opportunity is defined as a situation that makes it possible to do something you want to do. For Henrietta “Etta” Fielek ’70, G’77, the opportunity to attend her dream school—Syracuse University—was made possible by scholarship support and financial aid. Now,…
University Reappoints Ad Hoc Committee on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals/Undocumented Students
Syracuse University is reappointing the Ad Hoc Committee on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)/Undocumented Students.
The committee was initially established in February 2017, when Chancellor Kent Syverud charged the Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience, the Council on Diversity and Inclusion and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to work together to ensure that all members of the community are protected from physical harm, discrimination and intimidation.
The initial focus for the committee was to establish opportunities for dialogue and reflection among students, faculty and staff to promote and advance a diverse and inclusive campus community. The committee also worked to understand the long-term needs of Syracuse’s diverse student body, some of whom may be undocumented or beneficiaries of the DACA program.
The committee delivered a comprehensive report to Chancellor Syverud in June that included 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 immediate recommendations to 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 these immediate recommendations have been completed; the relevant contact information and support services can be found by visiting diversity.syr.edu.
The committee also offered a number of strategies to meet short and longer-term needs. Among those strategies were:
- 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.
Now, as uncertainty remains about DACA on the national level, the committee will continue its work to ensure that Syracuse University remains a safe and supportive environment for students. The committee will continued to be chaired by Jennifer Mathews, director of undergraduate international admissions, and Michele “Shelly” Sipley, director of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Programs.
“The Ad Hoc Committee has done tremendous work in ensuring that the University met the immediate needs of our impacted students,” says Dolan Evanovich, senior vice president for enrollment and the student experience. “As issues surrounding DACA and mixed-status families remain unresolved on the national level, it is important that we continue to engage with our impacted students and others. It is critical that all students feel welcome, safe and supported here at Syracuse University.”
The Ad Hoc Committee will move forward with continued work in the following areas:
- reviewing and studying the University’s current procedures for providing resources to DACA/undocumented students and employees;
- exploring best practices from other colleges and universities to fill any weaknesses or gaps Syracuse University may have to better support such students on campus; and
- collaborating with students, faculty, staff, relevant campus councils and organizations, and subject matter experts to identify and recommend ways in which Syracuse can enhance its support of this group of students.
The membership of the Ad Hoc Committee consists largely of faculty and professional staff from the University’s various offices and programs that provide direct support to students. The committee liaises with faculty as well as with other relevant councils and committees.
Continuing and new members of the Ad Hoc Committee are:
- Carrie Grogan Abbott, director of First-Year and Transfer Programs
- Patricia Burak, director of the Slutzker Center for International Services
- Myrna García-Calderón, associate professor of Spanish in the College of Arts and Sciences
- Huey Hsiao, associate director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs
- Andrew Kim, associate professor in the College of Law
- Amy Lutz, associate professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School.
- Missy Mathis-Hanlon, interim director of the Parents Office
- Gladys McCormick, assistant professor of history in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
- Kelly Rodoski, senior communications manager in the Division of Communications and Marketing
- Vernon Thompson, commander in the Department of Public Safety
- Kizzie P. Walker, staff therapist and multicultural outreach specialist in the Counseling Center
- Jaime Winders, professor and chair in geography in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School
- Glenn D. Wright, director of graduate programs in the Graduate School
- Two undergraduate students and one graduate student