USC creating 'emergency fund' for immigrant students

A resolution passed by the USC Graduate Student Government calls for an $11,000 fund to cover "travel and legal expenses" for students affected by President Trump's executive orders on immigration.

Administrators are already working with students to establish the "emergency fund," and the Undergraduate Student Government is considering its own version of the measure.

The University of Southern California is working to establish an "emergency fund" to cover travel and legal expenses for students impacted by President Trump’s executive orders on immigration.

In an email sent last week to students enrolled in USC’s Price School of Public Policy, USC Graduate Student Government (GSG) Vice President Christina Gutierrez announced that the GSG had “nearly unanimously” passed a resolution titled “Denouncing President Trump’s Executive Orders Restricting the Refugee Resettlement Program and Travel from Seven Muslim-Majority Countries, and Reaffirming Support of Refugees, Muslims, Immigrants and Religious Pluralism.”

[RELATED: USC students hold anti-Trump ‘oath-taking’ during Inauguration]

The resolution not only demands that the administration issue a statement condemning the executive orders, but also that it increase funding for “mental health centers that serve Muslim, refugee, immigrant, international and other marginalized student groups,” as well as “provide culturally sensitive mental health services for individuals that hold more than one marginalized identity (LGBTQ+, Muslim, immigrant, refugee, undocumented, etc.).”

According to Gutierrez, more than 250 USC students are directly affected by the orders, the second-largest number of any university in the country, prompting the GSG to add a provision to the resolution calling for “an emergency fund to cover travel and legal expenses of those students who are adversely affected.”

[RELATED: Student gov wants USC to take in Syrian refugees]

A notation at the bottom of the resolution claims that the GSG Director of Campus Affairs has agreed to an initial allocation of $11,000 for the fund, which would come from the existing Campus Affairs budget. GSG board members and campus administrators, such as the Dean of Religious Life, are in the process of creating disbursement models modeled after the University of Michigan’s Rackham Graduate Student Emergency Funds.

The Michigan program differs in that it is available to any student who experiences financial need due to an emergency situation such as an accident or medical emergency, allowing them to apply for up to $2,500 in financial aid through the fund, though they may not use the money for “normal living expenses” like rent, car repairs, or child care.

In support of the USC GSG’s efforts, a companion resolution has also been introduced in the Undergraduate Student Government Senate, where it is currently awaiting a vote.

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