Cal Poly student gov endorses 'safe space' for illegals

The California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo student government (ASI) unanimously endorsed plans to fund a full-time staff position to oversee a “safe space” for undocumented students on campus.

Currently, illegal immigrant students are helped by a full-time volunteer at the school’s DREAM Center, but funding for that runs out in July, and the volunteer does not have access to the Cal Poly staff training afforded to full-time staff members.

“Because [the volunteer’s] not an official staff member at Cal Poly, she doesn’t have the training that a student support services professional would typically have,” Dr. Jane Lehr, women’s and gender studies department chair and member of the Undocumented Student Working Group, told Mustang News, adding that “the person in this position would also be heavily involved in monitoring current and possible changes to state and federal laws that may impact our students or may impact students’ families and then advising students as well as the university on what’s happening.”

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California’s public university systems have already pledged to defy President-elect Trump’s promised crackdown on illegal immigration, with both University of California system President Janet Napolitano and California State University system Chancellor Timothy White issuing statements affirming that they would not assist in detaining undocumented immigrants.

“There is no ambiguity here,” Chancellor White said at a CSU Board of Trustees meeting on November 16th. “We are deeply committed to fostering a campus community that is safe and welcoming for everyone.”

[RELATED: UC system pledges $25M for illegal immigrant scholarships]

With its recent unanimous resolution, ASI hopes to motivate the Cal Poly administration into hiring a full-time staff member for the position.

“By passing this resolution, it shows the university that that position is a top priority for students,” ASI President Jana Colombini told Mustang News. “I think that this resolution speaks volumes to show how much the student body cares about undocumented students and the creation of the DREAM Center. I hope that the undocumented students know that we–ASI and the student body–support them and will do what we can to make sure Cal Poly continues to be a safe space for them.”

The DREAM Center is scheduled to open early next year, according to a statement by Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Humphrey, and the ASI resolution represents an affirmation of that plan by the elected student representatives.

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