Flyers symbolize safe space

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A “migration is beautiful” flyer at the entrance of the office of President Robert Vela, symbolizes his office as a safe place for undocumented students and DACA recipients Jan. 10. The flyers are around campus on doors of faculty, staff and administrators who want these students to know they can help them succeed and graduate without compromising their status. Nicole M. Bautista

FERPA prevents college officials from having to report the status of students.

Kimberly Caballero

Flyers of a colorful butterfly floating above the words “Migration is Beautiful” are posted outside faculty, staff and administrators’ offices on campus.

The flyer is an invitation for DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and undocumented students, to ask those who have displayed it questions about their current status, academics or any other concerns.

The flyers, championed by student success Director Mona
Aldana-Ramirez, are a way to let DACA and undocumented students know there is a collective at this college that wants to help those students succeed and graduate.

President Robert Vela’s office is one of several offices throughout campus displaying the flyer.

“This is a way to symbolize from a college perspective that students should feel safe and feel good about coming forward if they have any issues around their school, their academic progress or they’re experiencing any problems,” Vela said in a Jan. 23 interview.

Faculty, staff and administrators are not required by law to disclose the information that undocumented students reveal to them about their status, Vela confirmed.

“We are protected under FERPA, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which is a federal guideline to protect students records at this point. We’re not law enforcement.
We’re not federal officials who are required by law to do certain things.

“We are a college, and we care about our students,” he continued.

“That’s the misconception and the fear that’s out there (Undocumented students) don’t want to be exposed for the fear that someone may turn them in. That’s not what we’re there to do. We’re there to help them.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education website, FERPA “is a federal law that affords parents the right to have access to their children’s education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records. When a student turns 18 years old, or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, the rights under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student (‘eligible student’).”

Vela said he proudly displays the “Migration is Beautiful” flyer
outside his office.

“Every student deserves our attention and deserves our
leadership and focus to ensure their success at the college,” Vela said.

Carmen de Luna Jones, offsite coordinator of Brackenridge
Education and Training Center and member of the DREAMers advisory council, said in an interview Jan. 23 that it is not the job of faculty or staff to report undocumented students.

“That’s not our job to report, you know, who’s in our classes. Our job is to teach. We’re not patrolling our students, other than making sure they are on the right path to a successful career,” Jones said.

“We have to follow FERPA rules. We protect all students’ information.”

About 200 migration flyers have been distributed to faculty, staff and administrators who want to be allies with DACA and
undocumented students, said Aldana-Ramirez in an interview Jan. 31.

Aldana-Ramirez said the flyers have been on this campus since the fall.

There is a second flyer being distributed around campus and to all other Alamo Colleges bearing an image of a butterfly above the words “Keep Dreaming.”

The DREAMers advisory council, including Mariano Aguilar, Mexican-American studies and English professor, along with Aldana-Ramirez, and Mexican-American studies Coordinator Lisa Ramos are championing the second flyer.

The original flyer helped to influence the idea of the second
flyer, Jones said Jan. 31.

It was created to specifically identify each Alamo College, Jones said.

Aguilar said variations of the butterfly across the campus symbolize the idea that immigrants should be free to migrate across borders like butterflies do.

He also said all students, regardless of immigration status,
are welcome at this college.

“The butterfly is a symbol of migration,” he said.

“Butterflies don’t follow borders. Butterflies fly where they will. When students see that butterfly symbol, they know it is an immigrant-friendly office, and they know they can seek advice or help, or they can just sit and talk,” Aguilar said Jan. 19 in an interview.

Aguilar said in a Jan. 31 interview both flyers symbolize the same message.

“I think anyone who’s displaying either of these is trying to show to the students that this is a safe place, that this is a place to find allies.”

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