UC to host 1st summit for undocumented students in higher education

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UC President Janet Napolitano and the President’s Advisory Council on Undocumented Students will host a national summit on undocumented students from May 7-8 at the Oakland Marriott City Center Hotel.

The invitation-only conference, which aims to discuss the needs and challenges that undocumented students face in higher education, will bring together undocumented youth leaders, immigration advocates, researchers, government officials, artists and funders from across the country.

The schedule includes speeches by Napolitano and discussion groups about financial aid, legal services and career development, as well as federal policies and laws.

This is the first time the university is hosting a summit on undocumented students, according to UC Office of the President spokesperson Shelly Meron.

“The broader effect (of this summit) here at this university is to increase support for undocumented students,” Meron said. “The goal is to address the distinct needs these students face and what we can do to help through policy and legal recommendations and identifying legal strategies to support these students.”

Meron added that the summit expands upon Napolitano’s previous work, such as her distribution of $5 million across the UC system in 2013 to expand access to university resources to undocumented students.

Ivan Villasenor Madriz, a campus junior and undocumented student, believes that UCOP is hosting the summit because it is conscious of the undocumented student enrollment in the university and is attempting to build a bridge between student reality and administrative capacity.

He believes that the summit could bring about change that would allow for equity for undocumented students within the UC system but that the success of the summit depends on the integrity of the participants and their willingness to challenge limits.

But Putri Rahmaputri, a UC Berkeley senior and undocumented student, has mixed feelings about the summit and Napolitano speaking at the event.

Because the summit is invitation-only, Rahmaputri said, it doesn’t include the voices of all students. But she is looking forward to meeting other UC students at the conference.

She added that although she has her own feelings toward Napolitano because of her history of involvement with deportation as former secretary of Homeland Security, Rahmaputri feels that she needs to attend the conference to make sure the voices of students are being heard.

According to Villasenor Madriz, Napolitano must transcend her role as a UC administrator by breaking what he believes to be the status quo of the university putting responsibility in the hands of the state.

The university’s next step after the summit is to debrief the recommendations that come out of these discussions, Meron said.

Villasenor Madriz hopes that the conference will result in “an environment for undocumented students to strive, not just survive.”

Contact Emily Pedersen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @epedersendc.

A previous version of this article misspelled the name of Ivan Villasenor Madriz.

A previous version of this article also identified Villasenor Madriz as a sophomore. In fact, he is a junior.