CU students demand in-state tuition for undocumented Colorado residents

BOULDER – We’ve heard it a million times before, students these days just don’t care. But that’s a misconception according to 80 University of Colorado students who packed into a meeting on Wednesday, determined to start a full-blown immigrants’ rights movement on campus in the coming months and put pressure on the CU administration.

“The energy is here now and we are moving forward,” said student Kyle Huelsman. “We need to come together and start a dialogue and make the changes we want to see on our campus.”

The impetus for the movement started last week at a forum presented by Arizona activists about how SB 1070 has affected their communities.

After hearing the stories from the activists, the CU student organizers were inspired to form a group, Eye Resist to take the offensive before an Arizona copycat law is introduced in Colorado.

In 2006, Colorado passed a series of strict immigration laws, one of which prevents undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition. At the meeting, students decried this policy and demanded repeal.

Students signed a Declaration of Human Rights, which they plan on circulating to students, faculty and workers on campus:

Declaration Human Rights
The right to education is recognized as a human right and is understood to establish an entitlement to equitable access to higher education. The University of Colorado’s Flagship 2030 decree states that it strives toward ensuring access to higher education and creating a supportive and inclusive climate for all. However, residents of Colorado do not receive instate tuition for higher education if they have undocumented status. As a University of Colorado student, organization, staff faculty, or administrator I hereby support:

1) Tuition Equity that does not discriminate on citizenship status.
2) Scholarship access that is not limited to legal residents.

Professor Franicsco Barbosa, who teaches Latin American history at CU, attended the meeting and offered a historical perspective on the situation facing immigrants today.

“This is nothing new. Immigrants, the newcomers, have always been demonized in tough economic times,” said Barbosa. “But it’s also true that students have always been on the forefront of social change.”

Students voiced outrage and plans for future movements that included awareness campaigns, political action on the campus and state level, and even civil disobedience should all else fail.

“First we are taking this to the capitol, and if they reject us there, then we are prepared to protest,” said CU student Chela Garcia-Irlando. “This is an attack on human rights and we cannot sit back and let this happen without a fight.”

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Taran Volckhausen is a freelance journalist who primarily writes about the environment, politics, and drug policy. His work has appeared on National Geographic, Christian Science Monitor, The Intercept, Mongabay, among others. He is also a former editor at Colombia Reports. Twitter: @tvolckhausen

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