Rice President David Leebron, the new chair of the Association of American Universities Board of Directors, is supporting an effort by David Oxtoby, president of Pomona College, to encourage college and university presidents to sign on to a strong public statement in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
President Barack Obama introduced the DACA initiative in 2012 so that undocumented students could pursue college educations without the threat of deportation. According to estimates from 2014, more than 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools each year.
“I enthusiastically support this effort and have joined with David to reach out to presidents and chancellors across the country to obtain as many signatories as possible over the next few days,” Leebron wrote in a message Nov. 18 to the leaders of AAU’s 62 members, all leading research universities.
The public statement reads in part: “To our country’s leaders we say that DACA should be upheld, continued and expanded. We are prepared to meet with you to present our case. This is both a moral imperative and a national necessity. America needs talent – and these students, who have been raised and educated in the United States, are already part of our national community. They represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders they are essential to the future.”
As of Dec. 2, 450 college and university presidents from public and private institutions across the U.S. have signed the statement.
This summer Rice restated and expanded its undergraduate admissions and financial aid policy to clarify that undocumented students are welcome to apply for admission as entering students or transfer students and are eligible for financial aid from the university. This applies to undocumented students with DACA status at the time of admission and to undocumented students without DACA status who will have graduated from a U.S. high school at the time of matriculation and who have lived in the U.S. for an extended period of time.
“Rice University encourages all applicants,” Leebron said. “We consider candidates for undergraduate admission without regard to nationality or citizenship, and that includes undocumented students. It is important that undocumented students know they are welcome at Rice and can apply for financial aid from the university that will account for their ineligibility for federal and state financial assistance. We believe that it serves both these talented students and our nation to assure that they have access to a Rice education.”
More information about Rice’s DACA polices, see http://news.rice.edu/2016/08/29/admission-financial-aid-policy-clarified-for-undocumented-students.