The First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center has officially changed its name to the Undocumented, First-Generation and Low-Income Student Center.
By changing its name, the Center is “making it visible that there is a space for (undocumented students) here on campus and that we have been building knowledge around immigration … to become an undocumented-friendly university,” said Renata Mauriz ’17, the Center’s student success coordinator. This new name aims to amplify the Center’s “commitment to working with and advocating for undocumented plus communities on campus and beyond,” she added.
While the Center internally discussed changing its name over the past year and a half, the formal process with University administrators took place last semester, said Julio Reyes ’12, program director of the U-FLi Center.
“We engaged in a semester-long assessment of the potential impact” of changing the center’s name, Reyes said. This included collecting student input through a feedback forum, an anonymous student dropbox and surveys, he added. “The U-FLi student community was overwhelmingly in favor for the name change.”
The center’s new name “has been a long time coming. … It’s representative of a lot of work that different student activists have done,” said Jasmine Virgen Ruiz ’20.5, the U-FLi Center’s communication coordinator and one of its office managers, as well as a photo editor for The Herald. “It gives a lot more visibility” and validates the students’ work, she added.
Although the Center revised its title, “the name change doesn’t reflect any shift in focus” in the Center’s programming because of its previous record on working and connecting with undocumented students, Mauriz said.
The Center’s work includes its Undocumented Student Program, which involves one-on-one advising for undocumented students on issues ranging from their personal life to offering legal and financial support, Reyes said.
The Undocumented Student Program was “propelled by student advocacy and interest led by the Brown Immigrant Rights Coalition (and) was created as an initiative of the U-FLi Center in the fall 2016,” according to the Center’s website.
In addition to providing student support, the program “allows us to invite (speakers) to campus who are thinking about migration in a larger context beyond campus,” Mauriz said.
These speakers often attend as part of the Center’s Undocu-Series. The Center plans to invite two organizers from the UndocuBlack Network to campus later this month to discuss the intersection of immigration and racial justice movements, Mauriz added. The Undocu-Series aims to foster critical engagement and “affirm the lived experiences of undocumented communities,” according to the Center’s website.
Additionally, the Center works “closely with student groups who are very passionate about migration and immigrant rights,” Mauriz said. “We serve as staff advisors (for) the (Brown Immigrant Rights Coalition) and are always working alongside them for projects.”
For Lopez-Aldas, the U-FLi center’s new name is a critical change because it offers recognition to a subject that affects millions of people. “Students are coming together and saying that this is something that is important to them and they want to address on a large scale … (by) working with other students, faculty and people in the community,” he added.
The center “is providing a lot of very cool talks and community building spaces on really pressing issues in our society today,” said John Lopez-Aldas ’19, a member of BIRC’s leadership team and the U-FLi Center’s undocumented student program staffer. “As a student, it’s helped me to build community here on campus and learn about these things on a broader scale,” he added.