In the fight for equality, GALA has had a long history of supporting Emory Students: past, present, and future. Recently, the GALA Steering Committee wrote a letter to President James Wagner and sent a copy to the Emory Wheel in support of the student initiative known as Freedom at Emory. President Wagner quickly responded to GALA in an email stating, “I am very much in agreement with their goals to level the playing field by enhancing access and support for students for whom federal support is unavailable, especially those brought to our country as children but who lack documentation of citizenship.”
While, the state of Georgia is actively working to criminalize undocumented persons and prevent them from accessing basic rights, such as education and the ability get identification for work, we feel our privilege as documented persons should be used to advocate for the rights that many of us take for granted. Currently in Georgia, undocumented students are banned from attending the five largest public schools, and because undocumented students cannot complete FAFSA applications, no federal financial aid is given to these students.
Believing that access to education is a right that all should have, Emory students organized Freedom at Emory, an initiative composed of documented allies who want to hold Emory accountable to the ideals of ethical engagement. Working with Freedom University Georiga, a university for undocumented students to continue their education, Freedom at Emory hopes to create and expand the access of higher education to all students, regardless of documentation status. Two queer documented migrants who are Emory students, Nowmee Shehab and Lamija Grbic’, have taken roles within the group to strategically engage Emory’s administration in changing policies that will make Emory more open and inclusive for undocumented students.
Gaining support from professors and students, GALA is among the many who believe Emory must be the moral leader on the issue of higher education for undocumented students. For this reason, GALA supports the Freedom at Emory initiative to demand the access of institutional financial aid for undocumented students. In addition to this, GALA also proposed the inclusion of “documentation status” in Emory’s Non-Discrimination Policy. Emory currently accepts undocumented students, but with the increase of legislation against undocumented people in Georgia, we as a community must stand up for those who are being marginalized, just as we hope others stand up for the LGBTQ community when our rights are violated.
The full letter sent to President Wagner can be found here: http://emorywheel.com/letter-to-the-editor-lgbt-alumni-committee-urges-wagner-to-act-on-freedom-at-emorys-missions/.