By Jocelyn Tabancay Duffy
When school faculty and staff are responsible for conveying the most accurate information to their students, lack of awareness or discrimination can hinder undocumented students from knowing and perusing their options in work and education. Even well-meaning staff and faculty can also hurt students and spiral them into more emotional stress. Macias, a fourth-year psychology major retold an experience that disheartened her spirits and outlook after graduation.
“Last quarter in one of my classes…the professor had the board full of different positions and things we can do with a psychology degree…Everyone seemed so excited because it was all these possibilities that none of us knew [about] or considered. But that’s the hardest part for me: every time that I hear something new that I can’t do.”
Macias’ experience is not uncommon. Immigration and Psychosocial Functioning critic and academic, William Pérez interviewed Latino undocumented college students where 63 percent described general attitudes among student services personnel who convey the sense that undocumented students should not be allowed to enroll. Facing the failures of institutional support and consuming discrimination, the most successful undocumented students adapt by drawing inward, finding support through the communities they participate in.
“SIN is a group a friends who understand what I’m going through. I can explain [my obstacles] to them and I don’t have to break it down,” says Macias.
Flipping through the campus physiological health services website, white counselors are the extreme majority.
“There’s really no ethnic counselors…[The counselors] usually come and say ‘Can’t you file for citizenship?’ I’m not stupid, I’ve thought of those options. That’s not the type of help I need,” she vented.
Students are expected to explain the politics of their situation before addressing their psychological needs, it’s exhausting for knowledgeable students like Macias and Padilla. It is an unrealistic expectation as many students are unaware of the history and politics affecting them.