As the world changes, it’s important to recognize not only what is affecting us directly, but what is affecting others. We are all part of a bigger picture, and we need to advocate for one another. Here at UC Davis we are home to many different types of communities that are going through a difficult time due to the current political environment. One of them is the undocumented community. Luckily UC Davis is one of the most supportive universities when it comes to undocumented students and their families, and is one of the first with a center specifically for AB540 and undocumented students.
The AB540 and Undocumented Student Center in the Student Community Center offers a variety of programs and resources. In addition to the resources available for students, the center also offers one for staff, faculty and graduate students: the UndocuAlly Program for Educators.
An UndocuAlly is a person who isn’t undocumented, but is willing to understand the challenging experience of those who are, and support and advocate for them.
Andrea Gaytan, director of the AB540 and Undocumented Student Center, said being an UndocuAlly is integral to her role on campus.
“It is an ongoing process,” she said. “You never stop learning and training.”
The UndocuAlly Program for Educators is opening the door for those who want to show solidarity with the undocumented community. There is a huge need for allies because the support is always needed, especially when you work with undocumented students every day. It takes an ally to stay alert, and understand how they can offer meaningful support for undocumented students.
Gaytan said the creation of the UndocuAlly Program for Educators came from a student proposal for the AB540 and Undocumented Student Center. In the 2013-14 school year, a group of students created a proposal, which later they submitted to Adela de la Torre, vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity. They were asking for a safe space for undocumented students, and also a place where they could get resources or support. Another of their proposals was to create training to show administration and staff ways they could support students. That’s how the UndocuAlly Program for Educators was born — it was requested because students felt the need to inform their teachers and people who they interact with about their struggle and the reality they face every day.
Gaytan said a lot of people don’t know about AB540, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and about the limits undocumented students have, which is why the UndocuAlly Program for Educators was one of their priority projects.
The workshop is made up of four components: laws and policies, access and support, mental health, and a student panel filled by the UndocuSpeakers Bureau. It is a three-hour workshop and at the end every participant is awarded with an UndocuAlly placard to show they have been through the training. The trainers recommend placing this placard on a window outside your office or somewhere in your office where students can see it.
Gaytan said it’s important to get informed.
“The discussion has to happen, and it is a team effort,” she said. “We are in it together. We are not only doing things for the undocumented students, but we are doing it with the undocumented students.”
The program started in January 2015 and has trained around 500 participants. Gaytan said it’s beautiful to see the list of UndocuAllies growing and especially for students to see more UndocuAlly placards around campus, because the placard means that the person cares enough about the undocumented community that took the time to go through the training and has been informed about the different ways that they could assist undocumented students.
If you are interested in becoming an UndocuAlly, the next workshop is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 9 in the Student Community Center. Faculty and staff can register on the Staff Development and Professional Services website, and graduate students and educators from other schools can register using this form. Contact Héctor Gamero, Education and Training Coordinator, with any questions.