In a unanimous vote Associated Students (A.S.) voted to support Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540) students, a move that two years ago would have caused controversy.
Since 2001 AB 540 has allowed undocumented students to pay instate tuition fees at any CSU and community college as long as they have attended a California high school for three or more years, have applied and been accepted into college and have filed an affidavit stating that they will apply for residency as soon as they are eligible to do so.
‘I realize it is an important issue. If our mission statement says we support all CSUN students then we shouldn’t exclude them,’ said Nicole Umali vice president of A.S. ‘A possible reason because there was support for these students was because it was not a legislative issue. I don’t think the senate sees this as an immigrant issue.’
‘Two years ago this would have been a different discussion,’ said Tom Piernik, director of A.S. who was happy with the senate’s final resolution.’
In the fall of 2007 A.S. was asked to support the California Dream Act legislation by the state of California, along with other CSU student governments from the state. During that discussion many senators started to argue about the rights to financial aid of undocumented students with the vote ultimately coming down to one senator who voted against supporting the act.
During the open forum session, intended for any student to speak to the senate, students and faculty spoke to encourage senators to support AB 540 students.
‘With A.S. supporting the AB 540 students, it will give those students moral support from their student government and will allow them not to be afraid to seek help,’ said Pedro Trujillo president of Dreams to be Heard, a club on campus that serves as a support group for undocumented students and brings awareness about their issues.
Thus, senators such as Yasmin Nadershahi expected to take part in a long discussion about the reasons why AB 540 students deserve A.S. support and came prepared to the meeting with pages filled with notes and facts, ready to defend her belief.
‘A lot of it comes down to the language and its fairness,’ said Senator Luis Carbajo, who also serves as the chair of the University Affairs Committee and who, along with three other senators, worked on creating an official resolution given to A.S. in support of AB 540.
Due to A.S. support the approved resolution will be distributed to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, members of the California State Senate and Assembly, CSU Chancellor Dr. Charles Reed, CSUN President Dr. Jolene Koester among many other faculty and staff at CSUN.
Other plans are set in place by A.S. that will also benefit AB 540 students, such as the establishment of a scholarship open for all CSUN students.
‘This will open the door for AB 540 students to apply,’ said Carbajo. ‘The only requirement for this scholarship is that the students pay their A.S. fee.’
This scholarship will hopefully be set in motion by the end of the semester, said Carbajo