The University of Maryland recently announced the appointing of a staff coordinator to handle issues related to undocumented students on campus—a decision the University of Connecticut should consider for the future. Though UConn has sought to support undocumented students, directing an administrator to focus on this specific issue would be an effective and welcome change to current policies.
On Dec. 6 of last year, UConn president Susan Herbst sent a letter to the community, outlining the university’s response to student demands regarding firm plans for the support of undocumented students . President Herbst pointed students with concerns to the office of the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), Joelle Murchison.
“UConn will do everything lawfully within our authority to provide an environment in which all students can feel secure as they pursue their education on our campuses,” Herbst confirmed. While this commitment is welcome and necessary, the decision of U-Md administrators to appoint a coordinator for undocumented students should provide an example for UConn. Centralizing concerns, research and information in one position or office would provide clarity and likely better results.
Given UConn’s fiscal circumstances, it is unrealistic that the university would have the funds to establish a new position or office, at least in the short term. However, given the number of administrators on the University payroll, it should be reasonable to dedicate one position to the concerns and situation of undocumented students. Though the CDO should have ultimate authority in assessing and addressing the needs of undocumented students, assigning a point person would ensure due effort is allotted. The coordinator could also dedicate time and resources to aiding students of legal status who have been affected by the current presidential administration’s executive orders.
Having a coordinator who is intimately concerned with issues of immigration and undocumented students would be of enormous benefit to the UConn community. The State, through Gov. Malloy, has already issued opposition to these executive orders and in support of undocumented residents. UConn, as a public university, would be following through with Conn.’s commitment in designating a position like that at U-Md.
Issuing a statement and directing the CDO to look into issues related to undocumented students is beneficial, but does not go far enough. Appointing a current administrator to focus solely on these issues would not only be logical, but end any doubts regarding the sincerity of UConn’s commitment to all students.