CSU, Chico News

Conference to Highlight Challenges of Undocumented Students

Date: 09-16-2014

Sarah Langford
Public Affairs
Elizabeth Alaniz, Advisor
Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships

A daylong conference aimed at empowering undocumented students and their educators is planned for Friday, Oct. 3, at California State University, Chico. The Dreaming Without Boundaries conference takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Bell Memorial Union auditorium.

Organized by the student group LEAD (Leaders Educating for the Advancement of Dreamers), the inaugural conference will review the impacts of the California Dream Act. The act is a package of laws that allow undocumented students who meet certain criteria to apply for student financial aid benefits.

Conference planners were inspired by a similar conference at UC Berkeley, organized by E4FC (Educators for Fair Consideration). The event coincides with National Hispanic Heritage Month, being celebrated at CSU, Chico Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

Keynoting the conference is Cesar A. Cruz, an internationally known poet and human rights activist and the first male Mexican immigrant to attend Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. Cruz is also the founder of Oakland-based Homies Empowerment Program, which works to stop gang violence.

A documentary film, “The Dream Is Now,” will be shown, followed by breakout sessions on topics including financial aid, scholarships, student wellness and immigration.

Elizabeth Alaniz, an advisor in the University’s Financial Aid and Scholarship Office, is also the advisor for LEAD.

“I’m hoping attendees leave with a better understanding of dream students’ experience on campus,” Alaniz said. “A lot are afraid to come out—it’s hard to say you’re undocumented. A lot of students go through their whole college experience without even sharing that with their closest friends.”

She added that the conference will help attendees understand differences between federal and state laws on these topics, including the legalities of hiring undocumented students.

Registration has been extended to Friday, Sept. 26. Conference and registration information is available online.