New coordinator to aid undocumented students

Archive/HIGHLANDER
Archive/HIGHLANDER

In an effort to reach out to undocumented students at UCR, the campus is establishing a position for a full-time coordinator to help provide counseling, financial aid advising and overall support to undocumented students.

“This position will help us ensure that our undocumented students have the same opportunities and demonstrate that UCR is align(ed) with its mission of serving the needs and enhancing the quality of life of the diverse people of California,” said Estella Acuna, the director of Chicano Student Programs (CSP).

The coordinator position was established by an 11-person committee headed by Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs James Sandoval. Other committee members included Acuna, Interim Director of Asian Pacific Student Programs William Caganap, three undergraduate students and one graduate student. A 5-person subcommittee is charged with handling the interview process.

The original goal was to hire someone for the position by Oct. 1, but the date was pushed back to acquire more student input, which will take the form of an open forum where students can meet potential candidates. The interview committee hopes to fill the position by the end of October.

According to Ross French of the department of strategic communications, the position will be overseen by Acuna, but will not “be solely based in (CSP).”

Acuna estimates that there are about 300 undocumented students at UCR, most of whom qualify for in-state tuition under Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540), which allows non-California residents, including undocumented students, to pay in-state tuition under certain circumstances. An additional 174 students qualify under AB 540, but are not undocumented. UCR had 21,297 enrolled students in fall 2013.

The funding for the position stems from a one-time allocation of $512,000 to the campus from the University Office of the President, itself split into two categories: the first dedicated to financial aid and the second dedicated for student services. Grants to purchase textbooks, a work-study program and scholarships will be made available via the funds from the former category, while the coordinator position is funded from the latter. The final compensation of the coordinator has yet to be determined.

The $512,000 is part of a promise by UC President Janet Napolitano to provide $5 million in funding for financial aid and other services for undocumented students across the UC. It has been reported that the allocation will fund the undocumented student coordinator position until June 2017.

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