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September 03, 2013 - Image 21

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-09-03

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 3C

Coalition rallies
at campus hub A

Students gather in
support of tuition
Daily StaffReporter
SEPT. 19, 2012 - Seats
reserved for University Presi-
dent Mary Sue Coleman and
University Provost Philip Han-
lon may have remained notice-
ably empty during Tuesday's
rally for tuition equality on
the Diag, but that didn't stop
students invested in the cause
from demanding that top
administrators take steps to
ease restrictions on undocu-
mented students.
About 100 students gath-
ered at the steps of the Hatcher
Graduate Library where the
Coalition for Tuition Equal-
ity - a partnership of vari-
ous student groups seeking to
establish in-state tuition rates
for undocumented students
living in Michigan - hosted
a "graduation" ceremony for
undocumented students to
demonstrate solidarity for the
Public Policy senior Kevin
Mersol-Barg, the founder of
CTE, said the mock graduation
symbolized a momentous life
event that the coalition hopes
disenfranchised students will
be able to experience in the
future. Though the coalition
has made progress in recent
months, he said he still isn't
satisfied with its current prog-
ress with University adminis-
"It's been slow going," Mer-
sol-Barg said. "I'm not sure if
our goals are concrete enough
in terms of where we stand and
where the University stands."
LSA sophomore Daniel
Morales - a previously undoc-
umented student who has been
a frequent speaker on tuition
equality issues on campus -
introduced the ceremony's
graduates, a group of undocu-
mented students from south-
west Detroit.
After alluding to Clint East-
wood's infamous speech at the
Republican National Conven-
tion, where the actor spoke to
an empty chair as if President
Barack Obama were sitting in
it, Morales addressed the Uni-
versity's absent president.
He said the coalition would
like Coleman to publicly
acknowledge, on the record,
her support for tuition equal-
ity. He added that he wants the
University to be transparent
in any potential future imple-
mentation processes.
"Unfortunately the Univer-
sity of Michigan doesn't see all

Michigan students the same,"
Morales said. "(Coleman) must
take the steps towards tuition
The ceremony included
speeches by leaders from seven
University groups, including
the Muslim Students' Associa-
tion, the South Asian Aware-
ness Network and the Latino
Students Organization.
Central Student Govern-
ment President Manish Parikh,
a Business senior, said he
attended the event not only
to display CSG's support, but
also to provide guidance to the
student activists struggling to
work with University leaders.
"One of those aspects of
advice is to keep working with
the administration, and to
keep treating the administra-
tion, who are their elders, with
respect and kindness," Parikh
Sanjay Jolly, a public policy
graduate student and repre-
sentative from the University's
chapter of the American Civil
Liberties Union, spoke next,
and apologized to Parikh for
ignoring his suggestions of
politeness before starting an
impassioned speech about the
administration's lack of sup-
"I have one thing to say,"
Jolly said to a cheering crowd.
"Stop this bullshit!"
LSA senior Chris Askew-
Merwin said he believes the
group would make faster prog-
ress with the University if it
hosted more dramatic demon-
strations like student sit-ins to
attract the attention of admin-
"I'm worried that rallies
won't accomplish as much as
they should," Askew-Merwin
said. "I think the way that we
could really show the power
of the student body is by doing
something a bit more visible."
Public Policy senior Eli Day,
a member of Students Organiz-
ing Against Prisons, said he
was glad to see the strong turn-
out for the event.
"I think it's a righteous
cause," Day said. "I think it's
good to highlight the link-
age between the unavailabil-
ity of education for certain
demographics and the causal
relationship with that and
Engineering senior Kanchan
Swaroop, who wore a "Tuition
Equality" pin on her chest and
clutched a poster in support
of the cause, said she attend-
ed the ceremony because she
believes every student who has
been a Michigan resident their
entire life should pay the in-
state tuition rate.
"No human being can be ille-
gal," Swaroop said.

Students from the Coalition for Tuition Equality wait and prepared to hear the Board of Regents discuss whether the University of Michigan will take the initiative in
letting undocumented students receive in-state tuition on Thursday, July 18th at the North Campus Research Complex
Tuition equality passes
during Regents meeting

students eligible
for in-state tuition
under new guidelines
JULY 18, 2013 - Antonio
Contreras choked up as he
spoke of his two college-bound
sons, Javier and Jose, who are
undocumented students, dur-
ing the public commentary sec-
"I understand that is the
rules or policies of the Univer-
sity of Michigan ... (but) same
as me you also have kids and
I know you wish the best for
them," Contreras said.
Contreras came from Mexico
18 years ago looking for a better
future for his family but with
his low-income - he only grad-
uated from middle school in
Mexico - paying out-of-state
tuition was impossible.

"(My sons) have what it takes
to become professionals but
sometimes it is impossible for
them to achieve this thing,"
he said. "They consider them-
selves Wolverines."
The pathway for Contreras'
sons, who were both accepted
to the University, to attend got
slightly easier as the Universi-
ty's Board of Regents approved
a changeon Thursday to the
residency guidelines, providing
in-state tuition for both undoc-
umented students and military
Regents Andrew Richner
(R- Grosse Pointe Park) and
Andrea Fischer Newman (R-
Ann Arbor) both cast dissent-
ing votes, citing unanswered
questions surrounding the
policy and its potential legal
These simplified residency
guidelines will provide in-state
residency to those who are
Michigan residents, served in
the U.S. military or attended
hree years of middle school
and two years of high school in

The policy will take effect in
January 2014. Undocumented
students who graduated high
school and applied to the Uni-
versity within 28 months of
graduation will qualify for in-
state tuition.
But for 29,000 undocument-
ed students currently living in
Michigan, federal financial aid
- which provides grants and
loans with low interest rates -
is still unavailable, which com-
plicates the process of paying
for a University education.
Regent Mark Bernstein (D-
Ann Arbor) said only a cen-
tury earlier his family would
have been considered undocu-
mented immigrants, and that
access to higher education has
"always been a ladder of oppor-
tunity" to attaining the Ameri-
can dream.

"There are very few moments
when strands of history weave
together, and for me, today
is one of those extraordinary
moments," Bernstein said.
Bernstein said he commend-
ed the Coalition for Tuition
Equality on their hard work.
The group, which was found-
ed in the fall of 2011, has con-
tinued to advocate for tuition
equality through numerous
protests, and several of its
members served on a task force
with the administration to
develop these new residency
"I think they have just done
such an impressive and dis-
tinguished job, and they have
done it with dignity combined
with passion," Bernstein said.
Engineering student Joshua
Simister, president of the
See EQUALITY, Page 9

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