Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Not My SGA

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Marsha Gelin/Collegian

On Wednesday night, the Student Government Association (SGA) considered a resolution of support for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM) Act, a federal bill for undocumented students’ right to education.

Did I say “consider?” The discussion was cut short and shunted to a committee. Congress will vote on the DREAM Act on November 29, with Massachusetts senator Scott Brown still in opposition, and the SGA has passed up their one chance to voice support.

The SGA’s response makes me question whether our student government truly represents the interests of a diverse student body. This issue is very important to students at the University of Massachusetts. For some, it could be life-changing. The DREAM Act is an enormous opportunity for undocumented students to apply for legal immigration status. For students who were brought to the U.S. before the age of 16, and who spend two years getting a college education or serving in the military, it opens a path to legal immigration status.

This issue hits close to home. Accorsding to Jeffrey S. Passel of the Urban Institute, some 12,000 undocumented students enroll in U.S. public colleges and universities each year, meaning that the UMass population certainly includes undocumented students.

The DREAM Act finally acknowledges these thousands of young adults who grew up like any other kids in America, but hit a wall when they graduated high school or college. You can read some of their stories at DreamActivist.org, under “About Us.” Their status is invisible. Some were not even aware of not having papers, until they started looking for a driver’s license, a job, or financial aid for college – all of which are impossible without an ID.

Even military service, with the education benefits and pension that it confers, is currently forbidden to undocumented persons. Through the DREAM Act, undocumented young adults will be able to serve in the army, make use of a college degree and give back to their communities.

For public universities like UMass, which are actively recruiting students to raise revenue, the bill encourages more students to pursue college. It removes the federal law forbidding states from granting in-state tuition to undocumented students, but it does not change states’ tuition policies.

However, a 2006 study by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation estimated that letting undocumented students pay in-state tuition would bring $2.5 million to the UMass system and the state colleges. Getting undocumented youth through college will also contribute to the Massachusetts economy, from taxes on their increased income and from the drive they add to the economy as professionals, entrepreneurs, innovators and researchers.

For all students at UMass, the DREAM Act means seeing all our peers treated equally. It means that undocumented students among our peers and friends can feel safe speaking up about the problems they face on a day-to-day basis. It means they do not have to be afraid. I want to live on a campus where we hear a full range of voices, and where fear has no place.

This is important – for undocumented students and their peers, for universities, for state economies, for immigrants of all stripes.

The act has overwhelming support, nationwide. According to Immigration.change.org, a recent poll on behalf of First Focus showed that 70 percent of Americans, and even 60 percent of Republicans, support the DREAM Act.

In Massachusetts, the leaders of higher education have come out in support. According to The Harvard Crimson, the presidents of Harvard University, Tufts University, Boston University, Northeastern University, MIT, Boston College and the chancellors of UMass Boston and UMass Amherst have all written to Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown endorsing the DREAM Act.

The DREAM Act is a critical piece of legislation, and highly relevant to UMass and the students here. When Congress votes on it in two weeks, Mass. Rep. Sen. Scott Brown, may cast a deciding vote.

So why did the SGA have such a hard time passing a resolution of support? And what can we do now?

I do not mean to paint the whole SGA with the same brush. I appreciate the many senators who listened with an open mind. But SGA as a group failed to deal with the DREAM Act resolution appropriately. The senators in opposition did not engage in an open debate. Instead, they worked to silence the issue. No one demanded a fair hearing. After a brief presentation and no discussion whatsoever, the SGA voted to send the question to the State and Federal Organizing Committee, who, despite their expertise, cannot speak on behalf of the UMass student body.

The SGA will not be sensitive to students’ concerns until students start attending SGA meetings, voicing their opinions to their area senators and voting in elections. By contrast, voters will not care until the SGA takes on big issues, publicly.

The State and Federal Organizing Committee is meeting on Friday, November 19, at 2:30 p.m. in the SGA Office, which is located in the Student Union. All SGA and committee meetings are open meetings, so anyone who wants to speak or hear can attend.

But the real stakes are at the national level. If we want the DREAM Act to pass, we need to jump in now. Sen. Kerry has already promised his vote, but Sen. Scott Brown still needs to hear from his constituency. His website, ScottBrown.senate.gov/Public includes a link to email the senator with comments on issues. His office’s phone number is also available within that link.

We can still organize as a campus, with or without the SGA; the Center for Educational Policy Advocacy (CEPA) in the Student Union is getting the word out this week.

Alexa McKenzie is a UMass student. She can be reached at [email protected]

14 Comments

14 Responses to “Not My SGA”

  1. Students DAD on November 19th, 2010 1:43 pm

    Alexa , et al,

    It is obviously “not YOUR SGA”. If the SGA is a representative body charged with addressing issues of the students attending UMASS. UMASS = A state funded university that provides financial assistance to students on a “needs” basis as well as Merit. It is also a business and not a charitable organization. The SGA would not exist if not for the funding from the tax payer supported University which includes people like me, a taxpayer and student tuition and fees payer. If it was “your SGA” is sounds like you would have the SGA Parrot the many activists that are supporting the dream act.

    Alexa,

    As a Student at Umass if you believe in supporting the illegal immigrant student community I suggest you return some of the financial aid you undoubtedly received to the university. That is what you will be doing if the Dream Act passes. The university and the FAFSA has a limited amount of money. Your Claim of 2.5 million will be brought into the university coffers is laughable. Consider the millions of dollars spent by the government to provide an education, food, clothing, shelter and healthcare for illegal immigrants students or not. Taking money away from the University in the form of In-state tuition for illegal immigrants is the exact opposite of what illegal immigrants should be doing or advocating.

    consider this silly comparision, a homeless man enters your dorm and chooses to make home in your little part of it. your compassionate so you say “you can stay the day and hangout but you can’t sleep over. You fall asleep and don’t wake up until later discovering the homeless man did sleep over, used your toiletries, showered, borrowed some clothes, taken your U-Card got breakfast at the cafeteria, came back used your PS3 online and ruined your online percentage in your favorite game, taken you bookbag gone to your classes and learned what you paid to learn and went to the infirmary for a check-up using your name and ID to take care of medical matters that your insurance company is having you pay a deductible and co-pay. Finally, you have had enough and tell the homless man OK I really mean it this time you can’t stay overnight tonight. The homeless man does and the next day he claims squatters right to government land and the SGA says YOU Alexa have to continue to provide all the basics of life for the homeless man as long as you are a student at UMASS. THere are thousands of homeless men waiting to do the same thing to your classmates.

    That is the S.G.A. that is yours. Are you satisfied yet??

    Signed : A students DAD

  2. Shaniquita on November 19th, 2010 3:46 pm

    I’m very confused about why the student government thinks it should be involved in a national issue, and applaud them for tabling this to a later date. Why aren’t they involved with on campus issues, isn’t that what they are for?

  3. Greg on November 19th, 2010 5:14 pm

    Dear “students dad”,

    I wasn’t aware that the DREAM Act was about providing housing to homeless people. I thought it was about making it easier for undocumented immigrants to get an education, which in turn would make it easier for them to find jobs, start businesses, and contribute to society.

    Silly me.

  4. Ken on November 20th, 2010 3:28 am

    “student’s dad” needs to get his fact straight. Go back and read the American history please. This is land of opperchunity with true equality.

  5. Susie on November 20th, 2010 9:38 am

    The problems with the Dream Act: the widespread fraud, and chain migration. If you think these liars and cheats won’t try and use the fake documents that got them work, benefits, etc, to take advantage of the dream act, you’re crazy.
    The bigger problem is chain migration. One illegal can sponsor countless members of his family, who in turn, can do exactly the same thing. One illegal with an Associates degree = 20 or more who don’t speak English, who don’t have an education, and who will be entitled to numerous benefits – think about how many babies they have.
    Short term gain for long term drain. No thanks.

  6. students dad on November 20th, 2010 12:58 pm

    @ greg

    its is an analogy not to be taken literally. Read between the lines. No one gets anything for free without someone else losing something.

    Let your education begin. By definition illegal immigrants are homeless as their home is in another country until they go through the process of naturalization and citizenship.

  7. Johnny Jay on November 20th, 2010 5:28 pm

    Greg, that isn’t the issue. The issue is about illegal immigrants getting funds to go to school. when US citizens, cannot even afford schooling.

    I believe we should take care of our own first, and then try to solve the world’s problems.

  8. My SGA on November 20th, 2010 6:17 pm

    I am glad they did this. As a poor student I need all the aid I can get, and my single mom pays so much for me to go already. My SGA kept me in mind, and I applaud them for keeping our current students in mind.

  9. Francis on November 22nd, 2010 9:37 pm

    RED FLAG WARNING ON THE DREAM ACT–AMNESTY

    The facts about the Dream Act and not the propaganda from Senator Harry Reid’s Liberal party leadership that must–END? Sen. Jeff Sessions put out the following release last week on the DREAM Act, that it’s an incremental illegal-alien amnesty bill. IT IS A VERY CAREFULLY PLANNED AMNESTY, FULL OF RHETORIC? BUT EVERY TAXPAYER NEEDS TO READ THE FULL TEXT OF THE WHITE PAPER. Remember your taxes are certain to accelerate upwards, to pay for all these indecent provisions. American citizens are already having money extorted from them to pay for the babies of illegal aliens born here, the education of illegal alien children, the health care for all family members and crammed prisons and jails for convicted illegal alien felons. All needs to to be paid for by your taxes? High on the list of Negatives is that the students, will be able to sponsor immediate family members under the chain migration law.

    Not so much the students who would become naturalized citizens, but the chain migration that would snowball for all family members. As I have said before we are committing financial suicide, because the majority of guarantors never honor their affidavits to support the people they vouch? In the end the older family folks who have never paid into the Social Security system, become another public welfare liability. Hundreds of thousands or may be millions have been allowed into America on the surety of the original sponsor, who failed to support his-her immediate family. Over the years taxpayers have been confronted with this issue, as the US government never had the man-power to enforce this sponsorship law. Years of non-compliance has be come yet another Social Security, (SSI) Supplementary Income of Tax payers left to pay even heavier taxes in support of people who were sponsored and then neglected. The amount of money that cannot even be estimated, that is being appropriated every year to account for the illegal immigration invasion.

    Another provision that misleads the public, is the fact that an illegal alien can join the military in this time of conflict and collect as a gaurantee a path to citizenship. Under under current law (10 USC § 504), the Secretary of Defense can authorize the enlistment of illegal aliens. Once enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces, under 8 USC § 1440, these illegal aliens can become naturalized citizens through expedited processing, often obtaining U.S. citizenship in six months.

    The invasion hasn’t stopped and never will until we cut of all welfare entitlements?

    WANT THE REALITY OF COSTS? GOOGLE—Illegal immigrant costs and find out for yourself and then you decide? Then go to the Heritage Foundation website and it will explain with graphs, projections and text by the reputable in-depth analysis by Robert Rector.

    http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2007/06/amnesty-will-cost-us-taxpayers-at-least-26-trillion

    Next week will add further enticements for illegal immigrants to come here, if this Dream Act passes?

    Here is the full text of the Dream Act (S. 3827: Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2010:

    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s111-3827

    These corrupted legislators will not even tell you the real costs, for settling instant-citizenship infants (Anchor Babies?) Here is the last chance to harass your Senator or Representative by phoning (202)224-3121. Challenge them to stop the Left wing zealots for planting another Amnesty in America called the DREAM ACT.

    Another provision that misleads the public, is the fact that an illegal alien can join the military in this time of conflict and collect as a gaurantee a path to citizenship. Under under current law (10 USC § 504), the Secretary of Defense can authorize the enlistment of illegal aliens. Once enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces, under 8 USC § 1440, these illegal aliens can become naturalized citizens through expedited processing, often obtaining U.S. citizenship in six months.

    The invasion hasn’t stopped and never will until we cut of all welfare entitlements?

    WANT THE REALITY OF COSTS? GOOGLE—Illegal immigrant costs and find out for yourself and then you decide? Then go to the Heritage Foundation website and it will explain with graphs, projections and text by the reputable in-depth analysis by Robert Rector.

    http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2007/06/amnesty-will-cost-us-taxpayers-at-least-26-trillion

    Next week will add further enticements for illegal immigrants to come here, if this Dream Act passes?

    Here is the full text of the Dream Act (S. 3827: Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2010:

    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s111-3827

    These corrupted legislators will not even tell you the real costs, for settling instant-citizenship infants (Anchor Babies?) Here is the last chance to harass your Senator or Representative by phoning (202)224-3121. Challenge them to stop the Left wing zealots for planting another Amnesty in America called the DREAM ACT.

  10. Ed on November 24th, 2010 12:22 am

    I lack the patience to take apart this article point by point and can only ask how the author managed to get into UMass — but then this *IS* UMass where the proper leftist views are the prime criteria for admission.

    First, please explain how active duty soldiers can be naturalized as citizens if they already were citizens? No, you really can obtain your citizenship — the legal way — if you wear the uniform and many do.

    Second, the DREAM act will destroy UMass because once you start permitting non state residents to pay in-state tuition, everyone has the right to do that, and the Lombardi/Holub shell game crashes to the floor. Even if the Federal law is repealed, there is that little think known as the “equal protection” clause in the Constitution and everyone’s tuition will go up because there will be no such thing as out-of-state tuition anymore.

    Third, this will encourage the legislature to cut the UM budget even more. Listen to someone like Howie Carr (AM 560, 830, 3-7 PM weekdays) — that is where the average citizen is coming from and you won’t hear a whole lot of support for UMass or UMass’ leftist ideals. Give in state tuition to illegals and then have the legislature cut the budget and it becomes a moot point….

    All this DREAM Act will do is promote racism. Have you not studied history and what happened in the 1920s and 1930s????

  11. SS on November 26th, 2010 10:09 pm

    @ Ed,
    The DREAM Act will not make in-state tuition available to non-state residents, it will make it available to individuals who, first of all, do live in the state, though illegally, but because they were brought here without any say in the matter when they were far too young to have any control over where they lived or did. AKA like two years old.
    I’m not saying that illegal immigration is not a problem, but the DREAM act is a moral issue. These two year olds are now 20 year olds who want to make a life for themselves like their fellow peers who can pursue college and decent work, but they cannot, through no fault of their own.
    This issue is about empathy. It sucks for anyone in this position. Both sides win and lose to an extent, but this is fundamentally an issue about people at the very core.
    Finally, DO NOT attack an author because you disagree with their views. If you cannot be respectful, then you don’t deserve for anyone to consider what you have to say or for anyone to be respectful of you. Though someone may differ in their opinion, I have no problem hearing what they have to say as long as they’re not plain bullies about it.

  12. Simmi on December 8th, 2010 1:40 pm

    I came here when I was about a year old and grew up an American life as an illegal immigrant. But for those of you who are against the DREAM ACT, you need to know this. I can almost promise you that you wouldnt be able to know if a person is illegal or not, especially when they grew up in the United States just like you their entire life.
    Why should they be deferred from rights like you when they experienced
    the same opportunites throughout highschool and college except finanical aid,a driver’s license, and a job.
    You do realize that these people work extremely hard to get into college just like you. I wish you could understand that I have to go a school that I really dont want to go to but because I cant afford schools like BC due to the amount of money. I have no other choice. I personally, even if I played Varsity since I was a freshmen in highschool was exempt from receiving any scholarship money. And you know what? My high school won STATES!
    See, if I dont receive finanical aid that ok. But at least, I WANT TO WORK! I want to help myself but I can’t. And then it upsets me more that there are US citizens here that refuses to look for a job and receive unemployement money and food stamps.
    I am probably a friend of yours and I know you dont know my true identity. Couldn’t I live a life as normal as yours even if I struggle financially? I wish I could drive and stop using that lame excuse that I can’t afford a car. Because anyone can get a junk car and try to afford it. I know.
    I pay taxes with a taz id card every single year. Am I still wrong? Am I wrong that I want to live as an American and not from the country I came from because I stayed here for the last 20 years of my life? I dont even know anything about the society in the country I was born. I came to the United STates when I was about a year old! Can a baby really remember anything. I never went back to that country after I enter the US as a 6 month old baby.
    DO I REALLY HAVE TO PAY THE PRICE AS NOT LIVING A NORMAL AMERICAN LIFE? I PAY MORE THAN AN AVERAGE AMERICAN FOR COLLEGE AS AN OUT OF STATE STUDENT! BUT I DO RECOGNIZE MYSELF AS AN AMERICAN BECAUSE I GREW UP HERE AND ONLY HERE WILL REMAIN LEGALLY> THE DREAM ACT MUST PASS!

  13. Simmi on December 14th, 2010 11:22 am

    Fact, you can’t prove you have put into the system. You cannot prove that you are free of criminal charges. You would not be drafted in a time of war, you are not subject to tax laws. You may have lived an American life, but have not put into the American way of life.

  14. Simmi on December 14th, 2010 11:12 pm

    I am just stating that I have not submitted that message submitted on December 14, 2010 at 11:22 am. But as a response to that statement, there are ways to prove: I should be place into the system, I am free of criminal charges(even though I never committed any crimes except entering this country illegal as a baby),and that I am required to pay taxes.
    1. my family are US Citizens except me
    2. when everyone reports taxes, I submit my taxes as well. I am required because I obtain a tax id.
    3. I obtain a passport and a social security that allows me to stay here temporary but this exempts me from receiving financial aid, a job, and a drivers license.
    4. I can prove that I am in the system through the hostipal visits, schools I went to,societies i associated myself with, etc
    I hope for the dream act to pass because there are individuals like myself who can not go back to the country they were born in especially because the only family they have is here in the United States and they can not speak any other language except English. For them to enter another society and grow custom to another world will be very difficult. But think of it this way. In a way. Us illegals will be helping the United States make money. And even if the dream act passes, we have to wait for about a DECADE. so when we are about thirty. What are we going to then? What kind of future will we hold? Nothing really? You US CITZENS will still have it better than us no matter what because you get to go to school. Why does this dream act bother you much when it doesnt really help us so much. We wont become anything better. I mean look at me (well ha ha, you can’t, read, I suppose) I played at a Varsity level since I was a freshmen and I had AP courses and DIDNt receive any schloarship money. I was excempt because I am illegal. Yeah. I was really planning on going to BU or BC but it didnt happen. 🙁 And look, my younger brother thinks he is better than me. He thinks I am not mature because I am over the age of 18 and I don’t have a job. And I depend on my Parents. YES! I am a LOSER! I can’t help support them. They are in so much debt and can’t do anything and if I go back to that country. I know i will die due to terrorism. BUt I can’t die, my family needs me in a way to take care of them. to let them know that life is great. WOW, My life sucks! But it doesn’t matter. YOU guys have it really good. In fact you guys have FINE! Most of you when you turned 17, you were able to take driver’s exam. And all of your friends applauded you asking you how you did and BLAH BLAH BLAH! Then it was your senior yr, and you either went to a community college or to the accepted college. and then. the advisor tells you to sign up for financial aid you will receive it but NO> that didnt happen for me. or maybe you didnt go college for whatever reason.instead you got a job. a simple job. like a idk. hmm. some cashier job. got minimum wage. complained about the money. But what did i get? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Maybe this law doesn’t mean much to me because you know what. right after high school. I want to college. and went to college that didnt have dorms or anything. and it wasnt the kind of college you could associate with people your age. everyone was old. like above 24. these people didnt think like an 18 year old girl. but they had a life. i think i could make it until. i realize i could no longer afford the international price. and missed two semesters continuely. I have no idea why i told the world my life. I am just really upset and i dont know what do. there’s a place inside of me that wants to hang myself and the other who wants to fight. but the question that remains in mind every single day is. why would a UNITED STATES citizen care about me? i mean, when i was in college, i joined many groups to lower the cost of tutiton for college. funny, right. because it wasnt for me, it was for you guys. i donated money to the poor. i supported politicians. maybe this is all meaningless. maybe my life is meaningless. those who hate the illegals so much, please come and take my life. i dont want to be deported. just throw me in the sea water and let me drown. At least I know, that if you didnt consider me an American and I didnt consider myself the country i was born in. that if i remained in the sea water, the water will eventually hit every single country of the world. which is the UNITED STATES!

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