Under the leadership of State Center Community College District Chancellor Paul Parnell and the unanimous vote of the SCCCD Board of Trustees, Fresno City College will be joining community colleges across the state this coming week to host public activities daily for students, faculty, staff and members of the community in recognition of “Undocumented Student Action Week.”
The action week serves as an opportunity to raise awareness of college services available districtwide for undocumented students and their families, as well as promote inclusive and safe learning environments for all students. The week also highlights our partnerships with community organizations to help undocumented students access legal assistance and other services and reinforces district policies protecting students’ rights and privacy.
Activities at Fresno City College include:
▪ Monday, 10/14, 11 a.m.-12:45 p.m., at the FCC Dream Center: Have lunch and socialize while students tell personal immigration stories in a safe environment.
▪ Tuesday, 10/15, 9 a.m.-noon, at FCC Dream Center: Participate in a “Know Your Rights” seminar for interested students, get legal assistance and advice related to rights as immigrants from legal experts. Plus, get tips on how to advocate for immigrant families or peers.
▪ Wednesday, 10/16, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., OAB Auditorium: Attend a “Film and Panel Discussion” open to anyone and watch a screening on immigration followed by a panel discussion, which will include college administration, faculty, community leaders and students.
▪ Thursday, 10/17, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., outside near the bookstore at the Dream Center booth: Participate in an “FCC Supports All Students” activity where you can leave messages in support of Dreamers, take selfies to add to your messages and showcase college support for Dreamers. Plus, there’ll be music and snacks.
▪ Friday, 10/18, 2:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. OAB 251: Attend a training session to become an “Undocu-Ally,” an ally for students of all backgrounds. You’ll learn about the history of immigrants including Dreamers, the triggers and insensitive comments that deter a Dreamer from opening up or sharing, how the college is a safe place for all students and how to be open and know what undocumented students face and endure day-to-day.
The college has held an Action Week annually since 2017 when the White House rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which placed the safety, security, and educational future of thousands of undocumented students in doubt.
The California Community College system is the nation’s largest post-secondary education system and serves the largest number of undocumented students in the state. In 2015, in coordination with the Foundation for California Community Colleges, the Community College League of California, the Student Senate for California Community Colleges and Immigrants Rising, “Dream Centers” were established on many campuses to serve undocumented students, including Fresno City College.
At Fresno City College, more than 700 self-disclosed undocumented students receive academic assistance such as the completing the student educational plan toward graduation, transfer or certificate completion; help finding the right major; referrals to college services that include career, interpersonal and academic advising and more, all with the assurance of a safe and comfortable environment at FCC’s Dream Center.
I applaud our Dream Center team led by FCC dean of counseling, Monica Cuevas, and FCC director of TRIO programs and the Dream Center, Bernardo Reynoso, for their high touch, individual approach. It has resulted in more than 1,200 student visits annually to the center and increased the persistence rate to 83%, which is almost 20 points above the comparable.
Thanks to their efforts and past action awareness weeks, the old stereotypes of undocumented students getting a “free ride” to go to college are gone. The truth is, undocumented students are like any other students. They have a hard time being able to afford to go to college. Their struggles are real, just like other students. Our job is to educate all students.
Please check your calendars and plan now to join us at least one of the events this week, and while you’re on campus, stop by the Dream Center. You will be impressed.
Carole Goldsmith is president of Fresno City College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.