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Living the D.R.E.A.M.

The University should endorse the DREAM Act, even if it it means taking a stand on a political issue

Last week, the University announced its official position regarding undocumented students. As Vice President for Campus Life Kimberly Goff-Crews explained in a meeting with the University of Chicago Coalition for Immigration Reform, the current University policy, which had previously not been publicized, was that the University both accepts undocumented students and provides them with need-based financial aid.

This policy is proper and pursuant to the University’s best interests, as it helps to attract and support the brightest minds: It is always the right decision to educate the best possible students, regardless of their legal status.

Although the Administration was willing to announce this policy, it nevertheless declined to endorse the DREAM Act, a proposed law that would provide financial assistance and permanent residency to undocumented students who meet certain criteria. The act has been publicly lauded by such peer institutions as Harvard and Yale, but has found no official support from the U of C.

The Administration’s decision not to comment on the bill stems from the Kalven Report, which holds that universities should always attempt to remain politically neutral.

However, if the University does not consider a student’s undocumented status when making admission decisions and awarding financial aid, then the University has already made a public, political statement­—specifically, that a student’s academic potential outweighs his or her legal status.

And yet the University remained silent on the DREAM Act, precisely because the Administration wants to avoid public, political statements.

Yes, the Kalven Report dictates a certain level of political neutrality, but it also recommends that institutions take stances on issues relevant to their core academic goals. The administration frequently articulates political positions on Hyde Park development and academic freedom, and doing so is deemed appropriate because both issues are central to the mission of the University. Is it not equally important for the University to endorse legislation that legally and monetarily supports students it has already accepted and committed to educating?

The long and short of it is that the University should openly endorse the DREAM Act. The logic behind the decision to accept and support undocumented students still holds when deciding whether to endorse the DREAM Act; the bill’s eventual passage would further the University’s mission to find, attract, and educate the best possible students. It would be both logically consistent and beneficial for the U of C to endorse the DREAM Act and allow talented students from all backgrounds a chance at a world-class education.

The Maroon Editorial Board consits of the Editor-in-Chief, Viewpoints Editors, and an Editorial Board member.