When Haydee Gonzalez-Cejas, sophomore senator for the Student Government Association, began her term in fall 2021, one of her main goals was to increase support to Dreamer students on campus.
During the April 1 SGA general assembly, Gonzalez-Cejas spoke to the representative body of students, proposing SGA find ways to promote scholarship awareness and resources to Dreamers, particularly through the Dreamer Resource Hub.
Gonzalez-Cejas is also a peer mentor at the resource hub.
“Within that resource center, there’s a lot of information; there’s a lot of workshops; there’s events,” she said in an April 7 interview. “And it’s not open to the whole campus community; the emails are sent only specifically to students who have disclosed their status as Dreamers.”
The Dreamer Resource Hub is located in Room 1C of modular B.
She said SGA works in inclusivity but its nature — dealing with student affairs in broader nature such as mental health workshops, general student feedback and student events — can overlook the status of certain students such as Dreamers and international students.
Gonzalez-Cejas said she believes SGA is a safe space for Dreamer students to form part of the conversation and provide feedback, but she advises students to act on a basis of individual trust before disclosing their status.
“It’s not easy for some people,” she said, referring to Dreamers disclosing their status.
That partially stems from a misunderstanding from people about what being a Dreamer stands for, Gonzalez-Cejas said.
People may hear the term “Dreamer” and generalize their status, but one could be a Dreamer while holding a Green Card, dual-citizenship, a visa or be undocumented, she added.
Status should not stop anyone from advocacy, Gonzalez-Cejas said.
“You don’t even have to say that you’re a Dreamer; you don’t have to say you’re undocumented,” she said. “That shouldn’t stop you from advocating within SGA.”
SGA vice president Iris Castillo said SGA promotes and protects all identity groups in an April 7 interview.
“We make sure we keep our fellow students safe,” Castillo said.
Castillo said all SGA members go through a Dreamer ally training, or UndocuAlly workshop. All trainees are provided a butterfly sticker to signify their allyship.
Castillo said she suggested SGA members post this butterfly on social media or flyers as a sign of support.
“We want to make sure everyone is heard,” Castillo said.
For Gonzalez-Cejas, being heard — being part of the conversation — is essential for Dreamers.
“You are a legacy and you are important,” Gonzalez-Cejas said. “You are a once-in-a-lifetime moment.”
Helping Dreamers recognize their self-worth is crucial to the conversation, she added.
SGA must always acknowledge Dreamers because the organization and university are predominantly Hispanic, Gonzalez-Cejas said.
So far this year, nothing has been done for Dreamers through SGA, she said.
Gonzalez-Cejas said the workload of SGA can sometimes delay action for other initiatives, but “sometimes it takes too much time, and the year is already ending, and we haven’t done anything for the Dreamer community.”
As for that matter, Castillo said SGA acts depending on the needs raised by students. Students are encouraged to provide their opinions and concerns to SGA.
She said the purpose is to let students know SGA is there for them and cares about their feedback, inviting the question, “What is something that we can do?”
Along with Faye Suficiencia, SGA director of diversity and inclusion, Gonzalez-Cejas supported having SGA members complete the allyship workshops, Castillo said.
Castillo said an idea is to open more of these workshops for students and faculty and expand allyship on campus.
The next UndocuAlly workshop is online 1-3 p.m. April 21. Students and employees can sign up and get more information here. Organizations wishing to host their own training must contact email@example.com.
Though, for more immediate action, Gonzalez-Cejas advises Dreamers to join SGA.
“If you want to be able to approach SGA (with feedback), I just recommend joining SGA,” she said.
Gonzalez-Cejas said she wants to open a Dreamer commissioner position for SGA, who would be a contact for Dreamers to go to directly — similar to the director of diversity and inclusion, before the academic year closes.
Dreamers also could disclose their status to this commissioner instead of doing so before the entirety of SGA.
Castillo said people within SGA are a safe space.
“If they (Dreamers) see somebody with that Dreamer sticker … that means that you can speak to this person,” Castillo said. “Nothing negative (is) going to come out of that.”
For more information about the Dreamer Resource Hub, contact peer mentor Hugo Cantero at firstname.lastname@example.org or email email@example.com.
“We need to do more,” Castillo said. “We can always do more.”
For more information on SGA, visit JagSync.