Fair distribution for NEIU’s undocumented

Cassidy Schmidt, Writer

Undocumented Student Resources staff will seek student input to decide how to use the $2,000 pledge made by President Gibson and Provost Rome at a Town Hall meeting held two weeks ago. Following the pledge, Gibson placed her full confidence in Luvia Moreno, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Undocumented Student Resources, to decide how to use the pledged money to assist NEIU’s undocumented student population, which amounts to approximately 300 students. 

Moreno said that she will be meeting with student organizations including ChimexlA, TheDream.US Scholars and URO (undocumented, resilient and organized), which have already expressed that they have ideas on how to fairly distribute the money. She explained that in order for the distribution of the money to be fair and equitable, NEIU needs to ensure that students make decisions with the administration.  

Moreno said, “There are students that have said, you know, I’m undocumented and I would be, I would be willing to not apply for the funds if I am able to be in the committee because I want to make sure that we are making it fair and equitable.”

Moreno, Gibson and the students understand the $2,000 does not go very far. DACA renewals coast approximately $500 each to renew and this year approximately 40 NEIU students will be needing to pay that fee. Looking at these factors, $2,000 will only cover renewals for four students. 

NEIU already has an undocumented student resource fund. However, even when adding the pledged $2,000, the fund does not have enough to cover DACA renewals for the students that need it this year. Moreno says that in order to fund something of that magnitude, NEIU would need approximately $20,000 to be donated. 

Moreno explained that currently, the fund assists undocumented students with fees relating to academics, but not tuition. The funds mainly go to covering costs to attend and present at conferences. She also explained that all of NEIU’s talent scholarships are open to undocumented students. 

Moreno said that as far as using the fund for paying for DACA renewals goes, “We want to use it for those purposes, but we do not have a lot of funds.”

Moreno explained that it is especially hard to commit to using the funds for DACA renewals because they are often only looking at $1,000 to $2,000 a year. She also said that they want to make sure that the funds are also helping non-DACA students. 

Moreno said that they have decided against going outwardly public with publicity about the fund. However, she said that people do know about it because it is on NEIU’s website. However, the funds are given to students on a first come, first serve basis, based on a one-on-one discussion the student has with Moreno or the Vice President. 

In an effort to raise more funds, Undocumented Student Resources was named a champion in this year’s “Giving Tuesday” campaign. “Giving Tuesday” refers to the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. It is a nationwide effort to encourage charitable giving. It takes place after Thanksgiving to kick off the winter holiday season. Moreno will send emails to internal and external donors to ask them to consider donating to the undocumented student fund.  

Moreno also explained that faculty are able to deduct from their paychecks to be donated to the Undocumented Student Resources fund. As little as $5 a paycheck donated by one faculty or staff member can amount to close to $300 added to the fund each year.  

While all  NEIU’s talent scholarships are open to undocumented students, there is only one scholarship that undocumented students are exclusively eligible to apply for, the Aspire Scholarship. Moreno says that she also has connections with outside businesses that offer scholarships to undocumented students and she frequently sends out emails to undocumented students on campus to encourage them to apply. 

NEIU also has a partnership with a national scholarship called TheDream.US. NEIU was specifically chosen to be a partner by the scholarship, which provides a $29,000 scholarship to undocumented students. Currently, NEIU has approximately 30 students receiving this award. 

Moreno also talked about her department’s work to partner with outside nonprofit organizations that do immigration work which offers physical and mental health services that are free for undocumented students to use. She said NEIU wants to establish itself in the community as a university that does offer services to undocumented students. 

Moreno is a resource for undocumented students on campus. She says that she knows how scary it can be for a student to “out themselves” as undocumented, but she says, “Just by coming up here, you’re not outing yourself.” 

Moreno explained that aside from her office being located on the third floor, her other title is Assistant Dean of Students and there are multiple other student affairs services on the floor that she works on. Therefore, a student does not have to be undocumented to come to the third floor. She continues by saying no one will ever assume that just because someone is going to the third floor, they are undocumented. She also assured that she would never ask a student to disclose their citizenship status, but sometimes it does make it easier for her to suggest scholarships and financial aid options if she knows a student’s status. 

Moreno also explained that she can be an intermediary person for undocumented students. She is willing to meet with other faculty members on a student’s behalf, if they feel uncomfortable disclosing their status to a faculty or financial aid advisor. 

Finally, Moreno said, “I know it takes more than a pledge of money right, to make it right for (NEIU undocumented students).

URO, Chimexla, Dream.US Scholars and others have also come together to do further fundraising for DACA renewals. Their goal is to raise another $2,475. If they meet this goal, they will be able to fund five more DACA renewals. If anyone wishes to donate, students from these organizations will be tabling the fundraiser called “Keep the Dream” from Tuesday October 22nd to Thursday October 24th at 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Village Square. 

If anyone wishes to set up an appointment with Luvia Moreno, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Undocumented Student Resources, she can be reached at [email protected]. She will be hosting an ally training for students on Oct. 24. Register online as space is limited.