As part of The College Presidents with Undocumented Students Film Series, the UndocuScholars team at the Institute for Immigration, Globalization, and Education at UCLA met with a leader in the field, President Elsa Núñez at Eastern Connecticut State University in February 2019 to learn more about her work with undocumented students.
Equity in higher education for undocumented students is a civil and human rights issue. Across the country, undocumented youth and their families have been the leading advocates for change and liberation. Working with and for undocumented students, some college staff, faculty, and administrators have been allies for change. Presidents of colleges can play a particularly influential role in making change.
The College Presidents with Undocumented Students Series features college presidents who have worked with their students, staff, and faculty to build effective best practices for undocumented students. This series aims to build a culture across the higher education sector around the importance of education equity for undocumented students. College presidents and organizations have the potential to play a powerful role in working with and for undocumented students and activists.
President Elsa Núñez of Eastern Connecticut State University, one of the universities in TheDream.US program that provides tuition and fees and room and board scholarships to undocumented students, has been particularly active and vocal in building institutional support for undocumented students. Eastern Connecticut welcomed their first cohort of TheDream.US Scholars in 2016, and have served over 160 undocumented students to date, many of whom come from states where they are banned from accessing in-state tuition and barred from attending their state universities.
Many TheDream.US Scholars at Eastern Connecticut were extensively involved in immigrant rights activism in their home states and continued to organize support and community for undocumented students when they arrived at Eastern. President Núñez and key practitioners on campus have played a critical role in working with and for undocumented students and student leaders.
The UndocuScholars Team, Rachel and Robert, worked with two undocumented student leaders at Eastern Connecticut, Daniel, and Daniela, in collaboration with filmmakers Brenda and Mohammad to create a short film about Eastern Connecticut and to write this blog post.