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UC Berkeley’s Undocumented Student Program: It Can Be on Your Campus, Too

UC Berkeley 1960's protest
Student activism is alive and well in Berkeley.

By Ed Diokno
Views from the Edge
I’m happy to say UC Berkeley is in the news again.

I attended Cal in the late 60’s and student activism was one of the subject matters that contributed to my education. As the years went by and my relationship with my alma mater dwindled, the general impression was that Cal, as the center of student activism, had given up its title to other schools. The students, it seemed, had moved on, perhaps actually attending their classes.

I’m glad to report that my recent impression of the school’s reputation is completely off base. Instead of street demonstrations, the students have moved their activism to the Internet and stress policy changes over sign-making and chants.

It should be noted that last week’s recent demonstrations against a White supremacist speaker turned violent by actions taken by nonstudents.

The day after a scheduled appearance at UC Berkeley by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos erupted in violence and ended before it began, campus officials condemned the actions of agitators who invaded the campus and disrupted nearly 1,500 peaceful protesters. They also praised small groups of Berkeley students who organized themselves to begin cleaning up debris.

“The violence was an attack on our fundamental values, which are maintaining and nurturing open inquiry and an inclusive, civil society — the bedrock of a genuinely democratic nation,” said Chancellor Nicholas Dirks. “We are now, and will remain in the future, completely committed to free speech not only as a vital component of our campus identity but as essential to our educational mission.”

From the outset of Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton, the UC system headed by Janet Napolitanio, a former Obama appointee, vowed that undocumented students would be protected by UC. To what extant that means, is still a little unclear. She said UC will “protect the privacy and civil rights of undocumented students and will continue to welcome and support students, regardless of their immigration status.”

And the Undocumented Student Program at Berkeley promises to do what it takes to support these students. “We’re going to stand with our students,” says Meng So, program director. “We’re going to fight with them. We’re going to prioritize the highest degree of safety and security for them and their families.”

Take a look at the videos attached to this post to get an idea of what the program offers. If you’re a college student on a campus that doesn’t offer similar assistance, call them up for suggestions on how to do that. You can find out more about the Undocumented Student Center here.

The baby boomers who went through the 60’s and the Millennials share a lot of similar goals of making the world a better place in which to live, including having a more inclusionary society and upsetting the status quo. I see the possibilities of the two generations – one well-established and with some accumulated wealth with a history of activism, the other with the energy and idealism and social media acumen – joining each other in changing the world. Or, at the very least, stopping the policies coming out of this administration.

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