UCOSA Talks DACA and Veterans Affairs
UCOSA Congress member and Chair, Remington Dean, responds to questions and concerns from students during the Monday, Sept. 11, 2017 Congressional meeting in the Heritage Room of the Nigh University Center on campus. (Cara Johnson/ The Vista)
Congressional members from the University of Central Oklahoma Student Association held a weekly congressional meeting, welcoming students and faculty from organizations like the Hispanic American Student Association (HASA) and Veteran Student Support to discuss issues on campus.
HASA member Thalia Rodriguez addressed student congress during the special orders section of the meeting. Rodriguez asked UCOSA members what their plans were to help the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) students on campus, praising UCOSA President Stockton Duvall for his statement on the DACA rescission.
In the statement, released on the UCOSA twitter page on Sept. 5, Duvall said people need to remember the children who came here had no choice but to follow their parent or guardian into a new place. The statement appealed to support the students, families and community members who could be affected by the DACA decision.
Statement from the Office of the UCOSA President regarding DACA and his call to action! pic.twitter.com/Cq4ipORsVu
— UCOSA (@UCOSANews) September 5, 2017
“There is no easy way of leaving your home country,” Rodriguez said. “These people are doing it because they feel like they do not have any other choice.”
Rodriguez called out to UCOSA congress members to not forget the people affected by the DACA rescission. HASA hosted a rally on Sept. 13 at 10 a.m. at Broncho Lake under the blue tent. The rally had several speakers such as Mark Kinders, UCO vice president of Public Affairs, HASA President Salvador Arcivar, DACA student Luis Frias and Angelica Villalobos, director of Advocacy and Outreach for Dream Act of Oklahoma.
Other events HASA is planning to host includes an immigration forum to understand what DACA is on Sept. 19 at 1 p.m. and a DACA open-mic night to hear firsthand stories about how the DACA rescission affects them on Oct. 2. at 1 p.m. The locations for both of these events are still to be determined.
“Please keep it on your mind,” Rodriguez said.
Brad Ward, VetHERO coordinator for the Veteran Student Support staff, spoke at the meeting to address some of the projects for veterans. Ward said the staff is wanting to have priority enrollment for veterans and a room dedication in Old North for UCO alumni Lt. Col. Oren Lee Peters. UCO is one of the only campuses that does not have a memorial on campus to pay tribute to service members. Veteran enrollment saw an increase from last year to a total of 1,056 students who use the GI bill.
“By making these initiatives happen, we can set ourselves apart from other higher education, not only in the state, but nationally,” Ward said.
Towards the end of the meeting during the student concerns portion, Student Alliance for Equality (SAFE) President, Rachel Watson, and Gabi Glidewell, representing the Women’s Outreach Center and LGBTQ+ on Campus, expressed their concerns about DACA students on campus and how UCOSA was going to help them.
UCOSA advisor Cole Stanley addressed their concerns saying student congress could bring in individuals from different departments and organizations on campus, like Legal Services and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, into meetings to help address any concerns DACA students may have.