From all walks of life

From all walks of life

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Assistant Professor of Biology and Curriculum Audit Coordinator at Long Beach City College Priscilla Bravo Arias smiles during the AB540 Panel Zoom meeting on Oct. 18, 2021. Screenshot by Anastasiya Orel.

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Jose Gutierrez, DREAM Services Coordinator at Long Beach City College Priscilla Bravo Arias smiles during the AB540 Panel Zoom meeting on Oct. 18, 2021. Screenshot by Anastasiya Orel.

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Last week marked the 20th anniversary of the law that allows eligible undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.

System leaders representing all four of California’s institutions of higher learning hosted a panel Monday, Oct. 18, to kickstart the fifth annual Undocumented Student Action week. 

Assembly Bill 540 legislation was landmarked by California Assemblymember Marco A. Firebaugh and signed by Gov. Gray Davis on Oct. 12, 2001. 

The bill grants exemption from paying non-resident tuition at California public universities and UC San Diego for non-resident students who attended high school in California for three or more years and earned a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Assistance Vice-Chancellor and Panel Moderator Linda Vasquez said that Gov. Davis amended the legislation bill and added two significant factors. 

The first was that the bill amended attendance requirements to allow attendance or credits earned at any California high school, adult school, community college, or a combination of the three to count towards the three-year requirement.  

Secondly, a student may satisfy the completion requirement with graduation from a California high school or its equivalent, attainment of an associate degree from a community college, or fulfill the minimum requirements to transfer to UC and CSUs to qualify under the AB540 legislation. 

California State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro said he has had a long-standing commitment to undocumented students, and said that the Cal State universities have opportunities and programs due to the legislation bill.

“Almost all of our 23 campuses have dream centers,” Castro said. “We have robust support, financial support, housing, food, and we’ve advocated strongly at the federal level for inclusion of DACA students in the Pell Grant.”

The panel was held to discuss the intentional design of institutional and system practices to support and aid undocumented students. Vasquez said that the panel’s efforts are about leadership and partnership to support students across all segments and to ensure that students are provided with the resources they need to be successful.

University of California president Michael V. Drake said that since the 2001 signing of the AB540 bill, universities and institutions have continued to expand resources and assistance. 

“We have 5,000 undocumented undergraduate and graduate students across our campuses and we’ve provided about $100 million in aid across that landscape,” Drake said. “We can see the value in providing higher education to the broadest array of citizens within our communities .”

The second day for Undocumented Student Action week focused on “Equitable Student-Centered Design to Ensure Undocumented Student Success”. 

Assistant Professor of Biology and Curriculum Audit Coordinator at Long Beach City College Priscilla Bravo Arias said the curriculum audit is a voluntary program created by faculty to redesign coursework through an equity lens. 

Arias said the program has been a campus-wide effort with instructors having a list for completion of the audit. Instructors can share their list of resources with students through the Canvas shell or by implementation through the course curriculum. 

Student engagement, communication strategies, and culturally response assignments are other things that Arias and the curriculum audit program focus on. 

“Our students are intersectional beings, just like we are,” Arias said. “It’s a very diverse community, so all students can see themselves reflected in the material, and that helps to validate that students belong in the course and college setting. College was not created for a particular group of people but for all individuals.”

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