Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Dreamer Committee* of Loyola University Chicago: Promoting Dignity through Education

Loyola University Chicago has been a leader in working for educational opportunity for Undocumented students, i.e., persons who were brought to the United States as children and were raised and educated in this country, but remain without a path to normalization of their immigration status.  They are often said to be “Americans in every way but on paper.”  Many of these Undocumented students have been granted temporary relief through the executive action of President Obama on June 15, 2012. The President created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that grants two-year renewable stays of action and also provides an Employment Authorization Document (i.e., a “work permit”) and enables them to apply for a social security number. However, it provides no path to permanent residency or citizenship and does not enable them to access any federal programs such as student loans. As a result, these students have a minimally-legal status that limits their educational opportunity.

Katherine Kaufka Walts
The Dreamer Committee is a university-wide standing committee that succeeds a major task force that reviewed Loyola’s progress in meeting the needs of these students (For a recap of the work of the task force, see the presentations by Katherine Kaufka Walts, Kathleen Maas Weigert, Mark Kuczewski, and Flavio Bravo given at the Forum on Teaching and Learning (FOTL). The task force found that Loyola University Chicago had become an emerging national leader in promoting equity for these students. Achievements included the Stritch School of Medicine becoming the first U.S. medical school to openly welcome DACA-eligible students (www.stritch.luc.edu/daca) and the incredible undergraduate effort that create the Magis Scholarship Fund for Undocumented students from a self-imposed student activity fee.  Such “firsts” have brought the university renown and highlighted the value all levels of the university place on social justice. However, progress was uneven across the schools of the university and sustained attention needed to be given to these issues.  The collaboration of dedicated faculty, administrators, and students is needed to further opportunity for Undocumented students at Loyola and to seek systemic change in our nation’s immigration system through scholarship and advocacy.

Mission
The mission of the Dreamer Committee is to develop equitable policies and practices to promote educational opportunities and improve the lives of undocumented students at Loyola University Chicago. This will be achieved by through multidisciplinary collaboration, and the promotion of research, education, advocacy and service that is informed by the lives and experiences of undocumented students seeking higher education.

Mark Kuczewski
The mission of the Dreamer Committee is grounded in the Catholic and Jesuit mission to promote social justice and in the bedrock principle that acceptance of undocumented students is part of Loyola University Chicago’s broader culture of acceptance, inclusion, safety and support. As a Catholic university that is sponsored by the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), we firmly believe in the dignity of each person and in the promotion of social justice. The dignity of persons calls us to steward the talents of qualified applicants rather than reject their contributions for arbitrary and arcane reasons, including immigration status. Social justice requires that we foster the conditions for full participation in the community by all members of our community. Undocumented, DACA, and DACA eligible applicants are typically woven into the fabric of our communities and have a basic right to contribute to the fullest extent of their abilities. This approach echoes a long tradition articulated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) of advocacy for immigrant members of our communities. [Excerpt from the UCUS report]

What the Dreamer Committee will do: Policy, Scholarship, Education

As indicated in our mission statement, the admission and financial aid policies and practices of each school will be studied. Progress and successes will be noted and best practices shared across schools. Strategies for fundraising and funding students will be priorities for action. As noted, there is an urgency to the issue of funding for these students as they lack eligibility for federal student aid, a key element in the financial aid packages of many students.

The main work of a university is scholarly and educational. Thus the Committee will develop a network of support for the many faculty currently creating relevant scholarship.  The Committee will foster collaboration among these scholars and promote their work.  And, creative educational approaches and programming will be shared and new educational efforts will follow from this cross fertilization. This kind of inquiry and teaching that is in the service of the University’s Jesuit ideals of social justice and human dignity is central to the university’s self-understanding and strategic vision.

Loyola University Chicago believes in education that is transformative of the person.  Those who participate in a Jesuit education are intellectually and personally formed such that they are aware of persons who are unjustly marginalized and this understanding results in action. The Dreamer Committee seeks to model this Ignatian dynamic within our university community and to promote justice for our immigrant neighbors within and beyond the walls of our campus.

Co-Chairs:
Katherine Kaufka Walts, JD
Director, Center for Human Rights of Children
       
Mark Kuczewski, PhD
The Fr. Michael I. English Professor of Medical Ethics, Stritch School of Medicine
      
The following presentations (YouTube video) from the Loyola Forum on Teaching and Learning summarize the work of the University Collaborative on Undocumented Students (UCUS).

"DREAMers Welcome: Living the Loyola Mission through Educating Undocumented Students"
*The name of this working group, Dreamer Committee, is to convey the commitment to Undocumented students at Loyola who inspire, strive for more, and achieve excellence. 

Committee Members:
Bruce Boyer
School of Law
Flavio Bravo
Student Governmental Association
Derek Brinkley
Admissions
Aurora Chang
School of Education
Marcela Gallegos
Graduate Student Life
Yolanda Golden
Arrupe College
Ruth Gomberg-Munoz
Department of Anthropology
Philip Hale
Government Affairs
Kathryn Jackson
Student Employment
Judith Jennrich
School of Nursing
Katherine Kaufka Walts
Center for Human Rights of Children
Mark Kuczewski
Stritch School of Medicine
Virginia McCarthy
SSOM Ministry
Thomas Regan
College of Arts & Sciences
Arslan Saleem
Loyola University Chicago
Peter Sanchez
Department of Political Science
Joseph Saucedo
Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs
Sadika Sulaiman
Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs
Maria Videl de Haymes
Institute of Migration and Global Studies

Monday, April 6, 2015

Loyola Stritch DREAMers Advocate for Students of DACA Status at LMSA Policy Summit


Loyola Stritch DREAMers
On March 27, 2015, the House of Delegates of the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) held its second annual policy summit.  This meeting considers resolutions that set policy for the organization, especially in regard to its policy advocacy and education efforts.  This year, the delegates considered a resolution related to the eligibility of Dreamers of DACA status to apply to medical schools.  This resolution was of great interest to the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (SSOM) because of its position of national leadership in promoting social justice for this student population.  See www.stritch.luc.edu/daca.  Four of Stritch’s first-year medical students who have DACA status attended the summit.  Below is the text of the resolution that carried and the testimony of the two Loyola Dreamers who spoke in support of the resolution, Manuel Bernal and Diana Andino.  For more on this event, click here.

RESOLUTION #2
RESOLVED, that our LMSA provide a safe environment for the edification and advancement of Latino students applying to medical school, irrespective of their immigration status; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the LMSA strongly encourage medical schools, residency and fellowship programs to clarify their DACA admission and match policies; and be it further
RESOLVED, that our LMSA supports regulatory relief to DACA eligibility in the absence of comprehensive reform as seen by the Executive Action declared in 2014, and be it further
RESOLVED that the LMSA strongly encourage medical schools, residency and fellowship programs to support the admission, retention and promotion of DACA eligible students; and be it further
RESOLVED, that our LMSA write an open letter to the AAMC asking for regulatory relief for DACA eligible students who are accepted into medical school but are unable to matriculate; and be it further
RESOLVED that the LMSA work with medical advocacy organizations to develop policy language that promotes the admission, retention and promotion of DACA eligible students.

Congressional Action: ADOPTED as amended.

Testimony of Manuel Bernal, MS-1, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine


Manuel Bernal, SSOM
Thank you Mr. Speaker for letting me share why I think this resolution that we will be voting on is crucial for improving healthcare delivery to Hispanic populations, especially the immigrant community.  My name is Manuel Bernal a first year medical student and a DACA beneficiary. I also speak on behalf of the community of future physicians from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and our LMSA chapter.  I am a firm believer that that a reduction in health disparities will only be possible when the community of health professionals better reflects the population of patients that we will serve in the future. By encouraging more medical schools to open their doors to DACA recipients we will produce a pool medical providers that are more culturally competent and that will be able to relate to the struggles that immigrant patients face during their journey to the American Dream. So let's continue this fight together, for current and future DACA medical students, but most importantly for our future patients. Thank you.

Testimomy of Diana Andino, MS-1, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine

Thank you, Mr. Policy Chair. My name is Diana Andino, a current medical student, speaking on behalf of myself, students of the Stritch School of Medicine and other DACA students present here, as supporters of this resolution.

With the passage of DACA, support of mentors, and institutions, myself along with few other students are one step closer in becoming healthcare providers. We have been able to overcome many obstacles. For example I was not able to apply to graduate school, internships, nor work during my undergrad due to the lack of a nine digit number. My dream of becoming a physician was deferred until DACA allowed me to apply to medical school.

The passage of this resolution is of interest not only to the medical profession, but to our community. We call for more actions like the ones being done today, to be implemented in other schools and continue to open more opportunities for DREAMers like ourselves. Thank you.