USS tables CUNY DREAMers decision

The University Student Senate’s decision to officially recognize CUNY DREAMers has once again been tabled in its last plenary meeting of the semester on Dec. 3. The issue will be addressed during a steering committee meeting, which will take place on Jan. 27 with the start of the Spring 2018 semester, over a month later.

USS deferred making a decision based on the recommendation of an ad hoc committee that was created to address the issue during its Nov. 19 meeting. The committee, however, failed to meet quorum, meaning that not enough senators were present to make the meeting’s proceedings valid. Nonetheless, the committee provided recommendations to the table, which included referring matters to the civic affairs committee.

CUNY DREAMers, which currently operates CUNY-wide, is an organization that seeks to provide resources to undocumented students to ensure they receive a quality education and are able to graduate. The resources provided by CUNY DREAMers include financial aid, counseling, legal services and networking platforms.

Undocumented students currently pay out-of-state tuition and do not receive financial aid from programs like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the New York State Tuition Assistance Program. With the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy being cut, students have limited ways of paying for college, so aid provided by organizations like CUNY DREAMers makes an impact in the lives of undocumented students.

Because CUNY DREAMers has yet to become recognized officially by USS or CUNY, it is legally unable to fundraise because it has “CUNY” in its name. Due to this, the majority of its financial resources rely on donations. The organization has made attempts to become recognized, just recently visiting undergraduate student governments throughout the CUNY system in order to solidify its case for USS.

CUNY DREAMers made an appearance in USS during its Nov. 19 meeting, asking for recognition. During this meeting, after much contention, the senate officially decided to postpone making a decision due to the fact that they did not have enough time to make an informed decision as the item was added to the agenda the same day.

Some delegates agreed that, though they may express support for CUNY DREAMers, there was not a reasonable amount of time to review documents and make an informed decision on the organization. Other delegates disagreed, stating that same-day action was necessary because the issue is a priority, even if it was put on the agenda last minute. Most prominently, issues regarding the fact that the organization is largely self-elected were brought up, along with other concerns regarding procedures to follow that fall in line with CUNY guidelines.

Isabel Arias, Baruch College USG president and USS alternate delegate, said of the matter: “[We are] frustrated with the situation in general; it seems things are being stalled. This is such an important issue and it is on such a pressing timeline, it seems like something that should be a matter of priority.”

The table finally agreed to create an ad hoc committee, with 11 delegates who were chosen by the USS Chairperson John Aderounmu, whose sole purpose was to review the CUNY DREAMers constitution and other documents in order to make an informed decision. The committee would then relay its findings back to the table.

The committee was set to meet on Nov. 28. Though they failed to meet quorum, they still convened and made recommendations to the senate, as well as posed questions for USS to consider. These questions included urging the senate to consider the implications of recognizing this organization and how it would function under this recognition, how it would continue to install its members and what entity would oversee it.

The committee ultimately concluded that answering these questions “would require resources, approval, or guidance outside of the scope of USS,” as reported by Cyrille Njikeng, the chairperson of the ad hoc committee on CUNY DREAMers, in his memorandum detailing the committee’s findings.

Ultimately, the committee’s recommendations involved pushing the civics affair committee to encourage USGs throughout CUNY to provide the same resources for its undocumented students, creating events to provide information for people regarding undocumented students and how CUNY can support organizations like this in the future. It also suggested that Francesca Royal, the USS vice chair for fiscal affairs, should discuss with CUNY central administration how to install organizations in the future that are also university-wide and student-run.

Daniel Morote, Baruch USG's  vice president of legislative affairs, gave a statement to The Ticker, writing that the Baruch USG supports the CUNY DREAMers organization as well as all undocumented students.