By Steve Nakata, Student Affairs

Undocumented-smallPULLMAN, Wash. – Faculty and staff have access to a new webinar to help them teach and support undocumented students at Washington State University.

“Undocumented Student Training” is available through Human Resource Services WSU Custom Online Training at http://hrs.wsu.edu/training.

Undocumented-WSU-Students
Some undocumented students at WSU.

“Our intention is not to try and make people experts on this topic,” said Marcela Pattinson, assistant director in the Office of Multicultural Student Services (MSS). “But we want to provide some basic tools as a starting point so staff and faculty can engage with these students more effectively and confidently.”

The free webinar takes about 36 minutes to complete. At its conclusion, participants can take a short quiz. If enough questions are answered correctly, a certificate of completion will be awarded.

Recruiting, advising, retaining, supporting students

Pattinson said the webinar will help WSU achieve five main goals:
1. Give faculty and staff a better idea of who undocumented students are
2. Make employees familiar with federal and state policies
3. Explore terminology and language related to undocumented students
4. Provide tips that will lead to more effective advising
5. Share best practices and resources for supporting undocumented students

The 2010 U.S. census found 2 million undocumented children. About 65,000 of them graduate from high school every year. Of those, only five percent go to college and even fewer earn a bachelor’s degree.

According to Brian Dixon, assistant vice president for WSU Student Financial Services, those numbers are steadily improving due to concerted efforts by a coalition of advocates for these students.

Advocates form Crimson Achievement Pathways Team

WSU’s Crimson Achievement Pathways Team is a group of faculty, staff and students dedicated to improving access for and retention of undocumented students. With its support, in cooperation with the state, WSU has established scholarship programs to aid undocumented students.

“We have some great resources here at WSU that can help them be successful once they’re here,” Dixon said. “With this webinar, and the other services the Crimson group has established, we’re attempting to be proactive.”

Kimberly De La Cruz, a retention counselor in MSS, narrated the webinar. As a Filipino American, she has relatives living on the East Coast who are undocumented. It wasn’t until her junior year at WSU that she learned people on the West Coast generally perceive those who are undocumented as being of Latino heritage.

“By my involvement in this project I wanted to help raise awareness that this issue impacts many different cultures across the U.S.,” she said. “This is sort of a taboo topic in higher education but it’s important for everyone to know something about it.”