The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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AB 540 advocates try to engage and bring empathy

Among the thousand of students who walk the halls and stairways of the campus some of them carry a secret and an added load to that of the average college student.

Undocumented students are among us on campus, they just keep quiet about their legal status, President of Dreams to be Heard Pedro Trujillo said, on Thursday afternoon.

‘AB-540 community on campus is huge,’ Trujillo said.

Dreams to be Heard held ‘AB-540 Symposium’ for faculty, staff and students to bring awareness to the issue. A panel of five discussed the importance of campus awareness and involvement to help these students feel safe and comfortable on campus. CSUN faculty, student and alumni were among the five panelists, as well as representatives for Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540) has allowed undocumented students pay in-state tuition for state community colleges and universities since 2001.’ ‘ ‘

‘The bottom line is to provide exceptional guide to our students,’ Academic Advisor with the College of Humanities, AB540 Committee member and Symposium panelist Marvin Villanueva said. ‘There are ways and powerful ways to help these students, from mentoring to as a professor lending your book’hellip;the goal is to help them graduate.’

Dreams to be Heard serve AB540 students and non AB540 students gather, discuss, educate and advocate for immigrant rights. Their mission statement is ‘to provide a substantial environment to advocate for the rights of immigrant youth in higher education and the community.’

They are a part of CHIRLA’s program CA Dream Network.

CSUN alumni and former AB 540 student Jocelyn Arroyo served on the panel. She said she didn’t let anyone know her legal status when she attended CSUN because there’s not that much positive outlook on immigrants.

‘A lot of people are so ignorant about the issue,’ Arroyo said. ‘They just need to be informed.’

She said it wasn’t until she returned to CSUN to work on her Masters that she realized how many students were in the same undocumented situation. Arroyo did a radio documentary on the transition of undocumented students to higher education and the struggles they face during the process.

‘There are a lot of fears as an undocumented student,’ Arroyo said.

She stressed that undocumented students have a lot of the same issues. They are scared and shy to speak about being undocumented she said.

Arroyo never said anything about her condition because she couldn’t open up, but now that she has social security it has ‘changed my world.’

‘It’s a huge responsibility,’ CHIRLA youth organizer for CA Dream Network Maria Rodriguez said. ‘Getting support from the student body is important.’

A few ideas to inform fellow students are to bring awareness by discussing undocumented immigration and holding fundraisers for undocumented students.

Just listen to an AB 540 student Villanueva said. There are many ways to help, but spreading the word is the most important.

‘Once you become conscious, you can’t become unconscious,’ Trujillo said. ‘It’s embarrassing, almost shameful to say ‘I’m undocumented. How do you go to financial aid and say that?’

Undocumented students have to pay for out-of-state tuition unless they are AB540 students. They can’t get any form of government aid. They can only apply for private scholarships.

‘AB 540 students can’t apply for FAFSA, that’s self-deportation,’ Trujillo said.

It’s important to know that CSUN is an AB540 safe zone, Villanueva said. Not many are aware about the bill.

‘We’re working to (improve) our situation,’ Villanueva said.

President Barack Obama has showed interest in immigrant rights and gave the hope for change, Rodriguez said.

‘We’re in an important political movement,’ Rodriguez said. ‘This is the time to do something. It’s the time to get involved.’

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