Massachusetts college sets up scholarship program for illegal immigrants
August 27, 2012
Hampshire College has created an endowment for students not eligible for loans or federal grants because they are undocumented immigrants.
The college has raised $350,000 from students, alumni, parents and donors, and the first undocumented student drawing on the endowment will arrive on campus next month, said Margaret Cerullo, a professor who organized the campaign.
"The issues touched a strong chord," she said. "Students and alums know how much their education cost and believe it should be accessible to everyone, not just those with family money. Parents recognized the unfairness of their children being able to have a first-rate education and other children not, due to economic circumstances or citizenship status."
Cerullo declined to discuss the student who will be receiving assistance from the endowment this fall, citing a continued threat to him or her from immigration authorities. The student will receive $25,000 in assistance each year for four years, to supplement merit-based awards that Hampshire provides, she said.
The college hopes to increase the endowment to $1 million, to enable it to make the same commitment to an incoming student every year, she said.
Hampshire's new endowment has sparked movements to create similar programs at Smith and Mount Holyoke colleges, as well as at Guilford College in North Carolina, Cerullo said.
"I felt it was unconscionable that Hampshire encourages social engagement and students are involved with these issues, such as working as paralegals and studying the immigration movement, but we couldn't have undocumented students," she said. "That seemed completely contradictory and unjust."
Many alumni responded to the appeal with donations that included the message that the drive had made them feel proud of Hampshire, Cerullo said. There were many small donations, several pledges of $5,000 a year for four years, and one contribution of $250,000, she said.
Cerullo teaches courses in social movements, political theory and feminism, and will teach one this year on the Occupy Wall Street protests. Last year, she co-taught a course called "People Out of Place" about leaving one's native country.