ATHENS, Ga. -- The University of Georgia’s University Council will vote Thursday whether to ask the state Board of Regents to reverse a policy that requires UGA and four other Georgia universities to turn away undocumented immigrant students who apply for admission, no matter their academic credentials.
The council is a mostly elected group of faculty and administrators that advises the UGA president on academic policy and other subjects.
“(The Regents ban) represents a step in the direction of resegregation of public education in our state,” according to a petition the council’s executive committee received last week, signed by 80 UGA faculty members.
The executive committee put the item on the agenda for the full council’s next meeting, scheduled for Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
At least three UGA groups have already passed resolutions opposing the Regents policy, adopted last year after some state legislators threatened to enact laws that would prohibit admitting students who are not U.S. citizens or who have student visas.
The faculty senates of UGA’s two largest academic units, the College of Education and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, both have passed resolutions against the policy, which allows undocumented students to enroll in 30 state public colleges, but not the five that turn away academically qualified applicants: UGA, Georgia Tech, Georgia College and State University, Georgia State University and Georgia Health Sciences University.
The UGA Student Government Association also voted recently to oppose the Regents policy.
The Regents ban specifically says undocumented students can’t enroll in colleges which had turned down any academically qualified applicants in the previous two years.
The Regents approved the policy last year after some state legislators threatened to enact laws barring undocumented students from enrolling at any public college.
Some of Georgia’s neighboring states have already passed laws that prohibit undocumented students from enrolling in public colleges, said Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.
Opposing the ban was an easy decision for the College of Education Senate, which makes its decisions by consensus.
The education senate is just backing up its students, the teachers and counselors who are protesting that their good students are now denied access to the state’s top public colleges, said JoBeth Allen, president of the College of Education Senate.
“We feel like they are the students of the teachers that we working with,” she said.
Many of the students affected by the policy grew up like any American child in Georgia, cheering on the Atlanta Braves and the Georgia Bulldogs.
“There’s a failed promise there,” Allen said. “People have been told that if they study hard and do well, they can be anything they want to be.”
The ban contradicts what they have been taught about the United States, Allen said.
GALEO’s Jerry Gonzalez hailed the university’s votes.
“I’m certainly glad to see that happening. The Board of Regents’ mission is to ensure increased access to higher education in the state. The Regents policy puts this state at the extreme end of denying access to students, and it’s contrary to their mission,” he said. “It’s not looking forward to where we ought to be. Most states are moving in the direction of enhancing access, rather than limiting it.”