January 27, 2014

SDS Launches National Push for Tuition Equity

This week Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) announced the launch of an education rights campaign for undocumented immigrant students. SDS is calling on all chapters to build the struggle for tuition equity and financial aid for students who graduate from U.S. high schools without documentation.
Currently many states deny undocumented high school students in-state tuition, even if they meet all other residency requirements. These institutions force students into making a difficult choice: either pay exorbitant out-of-state fees, or do not attend college at all. Chrisley Carpio, an SDS organizer at the University of Florida said, “President Obama’s DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] program created this situation. It granted temporary immunity to a portion of undocumented immigrants but failed to solve any of the problems they face, including education. Now it’s up to individual states and colleges to make their own policies.”
Federal neglect, ‘States Rights’ to discriminate
Currently in two states – Alabama and South Carolina – the legislatures went so far as to ban undocumented students from attending college altogether. In Georgia, some schools ban undocumented students, but this legislation is currently under review. Even in states with tuition equity policies, where DACA students qualify for in-state fees, they remain unable to receive financial aid like the rest of their classmates.
Only five states - California, New Mexico, Minnesota, Texas and Illinois - grant these students aid. Stephanie Taylor, from the University of Minnesota says, “We want our chapters to pick up this campaign on their campuses. Where schools don’t have tuition equity we demand that they implement it. If tuition equity already exists we demand that undocumented students receive financial aid. In the states where it’s completely illegal for undocumented students to attend college, we want those laws repealed.”
The SDS National Working Committee enthusiastically accepted the proposal on the conference call. Two chapters, at the University of South Florida and the University of Florida, began organizing campaigns during the fall 2013 semester. After hearing about the success at these schools, other chapters around the country decided to take up the issue.
Gregory Lucero, from the Revolutionary Student Union in Utah said, “The struggle for education rights and legalization remains one of the most important fronts in the struggle. I’m really excited about the new direction SDS is going nationally. If we do this well, we can strike a huge blow against racial discrimination and oppression, while growing the student movement at the same time.”
If you’re interested in joining the fight for tuition equity and financial aid for undocumented students you can visit SDS at newsds.org and like the Facebook page Education for All Campaign.