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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Students don?t give up on Dream Act

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made history on Tuesday, Sept. 30, when he vetoed a record 35 percent of the nearly 1, 200 bills the California Legislature put on his desk this year.

Among those bills returned by the governor without his signature was Sen. Cedillo’s SB 1301, the California Dream Act, which has been vetoed by Schwarzenegger for the fourth time.

This bill would have allowed U.S. citizens and undocumented AB 540 students to apply for institutional financial aid ‘- aid that is awarded based on academic achievement and financial need, and that is administered by the attending college or university in the forms of scholarships, loans and work-study programs.

It is estimated that AB 540 students compromise less than one percent of the student body in the University of California system. Approximately 1,200 of the 1,600 AB 540 students enrolled during the 2006 -2007 school year were U.S. citizens or legal residents, and in total AB 540 students contribute $64 millions each year in tuition to the UC system, of which 30 percent is used to create this institutional aid.

The CSU does not track the number of AB 540 students due to a confidentiality agreement and it is unclear how the UC system is able to do it.

One of Schwarzenegger’s spokesmen, Aaron McLear, said that the governor ‘reviewed each and every bill, but he wasn’t going to spend a lot of time and energy on bills that didn’t mean much to the state.’

Didn’t mean much to the state? Wouldn’t spend much time on them?

Tell that to the approximately 25,000 AB 540 students who could have benefited from the California Dream Act. Tell that to the hundreds of students, activists, educators, professionals, faith-based leaders, union members, community and business members of the Power and Unity Coalition and CHIRLA’s California Dream Network who spent months collecting over 20,00 signatures in support of this bill.

Members of CSUN’s Dreams to be Heard, an AB 540 support group, worked hard in collecting pens and signatures, and traveled to Sacramento on Sept. 17 to remind the governor of his promise of making California’s future a priority.

The governor, however, seems to care very little about California’s future, despite his claim that he would make this a year of education. So far, Schwarzenegger has only terminated the dreams of thousands of students.

I have to admit that I’ve never been a big fan of the governor, but I was hopeful he would sign it, as were over 100 students from Los Angeles and Orange County who traveled to the state’s capital to urge Schwarzenegger to sign the bill. That hope came in part from the governor’s own words, when in 2005 during my commencement ceremony at Santa Monica City College, he said:

‘And make sure that you understand one thing; that you are the only obstacle. There is no other obstacle for you than you yourself, your own mind, because America and California is already the land of opportunity.’

I beg to disagree with Schwarzenegger. Our mind is not the biggest obstacle here. During the last hour of Sept. 30, while thousands of students were glued to the TV, searching the Internet, waiting for a call, a text message or an e-mail with news about the California Dream Act, the governor became the obstacle.

Once again, he has ignored legislators who have supported, have approved and have put this bill on his desk. He has ignored studies from institutions such as the Public Policy Institute of California, which predicts that 41 percent of jobs in California in 2025 will require a college education, but at the current rate the state will only produce 32 percent of the workers needed.

AB 540 students are a key component of the state’s future because these students can help fill the gap. They are an untapped resource that given the right opportunity and support will bring about great changes and benefits to California.

If the solution seems to be a signature away and everyone understands this, including our very own Associated Student Senate, which passed a resolution last spring expressing its support for SB 1301, what in the world is wrong with the governor?

Perhaps we’ll never know, but there is one thing we know for sure: AB 540 students are not giving up. If the ‘Governator’ was able to hear the more than one hundred students chanting in front of the state capitol, myself among them, then he knows that ‘We’ll be Back!’

Schwarzenegger’s veto was only a small setback, since the students behind this movement for equal access to education will continue their efforts on bringing about legislation, at the state and national level, that will give undocumented students a chance for a better future and the honor of giving back to the country they know as home.’

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