Before the end of the fall semester the Associated Students of Sonoma State University decided to follow the footsteps of California State Universities, Fullerton, Northridge, Los Angeles, Long Beach and even the local Santa Rosa Junior College by approving a resolution to establish a Dream Center on campus—a resource to aid undocumented students through their college careers.
However, while many students are celebrating this historic decision others feel in the dark about the logistics of the establishment. Some of the student’s major concerns are: How will the Dream Center be funded and where will it be located?
Brandon Mercer, president of the Associated Students, said a major point of debate on whether to approve the resolution was the “vague” information they had received on how the Dream Center would be funded.
“So far, the only indications [Associated Students] has received is that money will be allocated from the general fund, the overall operating fund of the university which is about $100 million [in different reports],” said Mercer. Mercer also wants to make sure his team will be able to provide “utter and complete transparency to the students of Sonoma State,” as he regards doing so as one of the most important aspects of his job.
For Griselda Madrigal, senior and president of the DREAMers Club, the positive outcome received from Associated Students was a major victory, however; she wants to make sure the ball does not stop rolling there. “Can you imagine how many undocumented students have had to drop out of school because they were not supported at our predominantly white institution?” said Madrigal “With the establishment of a Dream Center we will make sure undocumented students receive the mentorship necessary to thrive at our university.”
Vice President for Student Affairs and Chief Student Affairs Officer Matthew Lopez-Phillips is working hard to make sure President Ruben Armiñana’s promise to inaugurate the Dream Center before the end of his tenure becomes a reality. Lopez-Phillips regards the Dream Center as critically important because “Sonoma State must provide for the underserved population of students who have different struggles that do not fit into the services we normally provide.”
Lopez-Phillips is also aware that the needs of undocumented students are different at every college campus and for that reason believes, “there must be a strong connection to the undocumented students of Sonoma State to make sure we build the right Dream Center and not just a center.” Lopez-Phillips in collaboration with Mark Fabionar, director of the HUB, hope to turn in a proposal to the administration of Armiñana by Feb. 15 in which they plan to detail every aspect and service provided at the Dream Center with some of the most relevant being legal services and mentorship.
When asked where the new center would be located Lopez-Philips wanted to clarify a miscommunication between himself and Mercer as some students believed the administration was planning to assign a storage closet in the HUB as the location of this center. “We are not interested in giving any student-group a closet, it is actually a full office that is currently being used to store materials from the HUB,” said Lopez-Phillips. The official location of the center is not yet known, however, the office space in the HUB appears to be the most promising option.
All three, Lopez-Phillips, Mercer and Madrigal believe the Dream Center comes a bit late to the Sonoma State campus, yet they are happy and excited for the current students who will be able to use it and who will only benefit from it. “I am glad Sonoma State is doing it now, and not kicking it down the road until the next year, and the next year,” said Mercer.