While discussions of diversity and privilege often arise on campus, one privilege is often overlooked — citizenship. The DREAM Team at NYU tries changing that by focusing on bringing awareness and help to students without documentation.
CAS senior Tomas Cruz joined the club his freshman year and said that he fully committed to it during his sophomore year, once he settled into college life. He now serves as the president and leads a large portion of the club’s operations.
“The DREAM Team, in general, seeks to be advocates for/with the undocumented community at NYU and at large,” Cruz said. “Some of us are just allies, a couple have identified as undocumented, but all of us have a personal connection or concern with the undocumented community and the issues they face, and as a result, want to be of use.”
He said that the club is trying to broaden the groups it works with to reach more people while learning about the different identities and intersectionalities that undocumentation affects. Cruz said that this year, the club is attempting to get younger students to participate, since the DREAM Team largely consists of seniors.
Steinhardt senior Tiffany Rodriguez is the club’s vice president, and she also committed to the club during her sophomore year. She was inspired after attending a spoken word event organized by DREAM Team, and the headline “Education not Deportation” really resonated with her. In hopes of recreating this impactful evening, she said the club has many events planned for the semester.
“Two big events we’re hosting this semester are Contra-Cuentos: a night of performances showcasing Latinx artists who are/were immigrants or undocumented,” Rodriguez said. “We’re also trying to organize an event with various other clubs about the humanization of Syrian refugees. We’re looking for experts to speak about things like the impact displacement and trauma has on refugees mental health.”
Their efforts have seen results, including the financial aid program for undocumented students — Rodriguez was proud of this effort and said that DREAM Team even received a shoutout in the pilot program’s announcement. Even though progress was made, she said that there is still a long way to go, with goals such as educating financial aid advisors about how to navigate paying for college as a student without documentation still to be met. And they hope to enact more change again this Wednesday when they speak with administration.
“We’ve been focusing most of our energy on our presentation about the undocumented experience for about 30 folks from the office of financial aid/admissions,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve just been attempting to stay in communication about updates and ways to make NYU a safer space for undocumented folks.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Oct. 24 print edition. Email Diamond Naga Siu at [email protected]