By Steve Nakata, Administrative Services
PULLMAN, Wash. – Undocumented students across the nation are on edge due to the changing political climate, prompting WSU and other higher education institutions in the state to organize a summit to examine better ways to serve them.
“Undocumented Summit: A Call to Action” will take place 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, at the University of Washington’s Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center. Registration is open at http://mailchi.mp/uw/register-today-undocumented-summit-a-call-to-action.
Participants will learn how to advocate for undocumented students, utilize existing research to create support programs, and develop a network of allies within and outside of their own institutions.
“Over the past few months, we’ve seen an influx of looming legislations and executive orders roll out that threaten the well-being of underrepresented and historically disenfranchised, immigrant student populations,” said Marcela Pattinson, assistant director in WSU’s Office of Multicultural Student Services. “They awaken to a harsh reality of having to fight an upstream battle to achieve their career aspirations and to build prosperous lives the United States.”
Pattinson said research indicates there are approximately 250,000 undocumented individuals residing in the state of Washington. Between 34,000 and 42,500 are under the age of 18. Hundreds of undocumented students are applying to colleges and universities aided by Washington House Bill 1079. That legislation passed in 2003 allowing certain undocumented students to be eligible for in-state tuition.
Pattinson said HB 1079, and other existing legislation such as the Real Hope Act and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, face an uncertain future and undocumented students are worried that obtaining a college degree is getting further out of reach for them.
“As educators and professionals, the need is more urgent than ever to seek out advanced understanding of educational law, higher education law and its impact on school policy in order to build effective best practices.”
The summit is sponsored by the Washington State Educational Access Coalition for HB 1079 Students, a group WSU helped form in 2011 when the Office for Access, Equity and Achievement received a grant from College Spark Washington to research best practices for serving undocumented students.
Joining WSU in the coalition are the University of Washington, Central Washington University, Everett Community College, Eastern Washington University, Western Washington University, Wenatchee Valley College, Gonzaga University and South Seattle College.
This is the second summit organized by the coalition. The first one took place in Seattle during the summer of 2014.