Newly launched Rice website offers resources and answers for students affected by DACA

Students who are in the U.S. without documentation face an increasingly large array of issues in college, from successfully finding off-campus housing to securing financial aid for future semesters. A new Rice website,, is intended to become a resource for students with concerns about these matters and more.


“It started with the students,” said Matt Taylor, associate vice provost for academic affairs and adjunct associate professor of humanities, who was first approached about creating a centralized resource for so-called “undocumented” students by Lovett College sophomore and Student Association Senator Ariana Engles. “Students she knew were coming to her and looking for resources and answers from the university,” Taylor said.

Together, they divided duties and tackled a long list of requirements for getting a website up and running to answer the sorts of questions these students were asking most frequently. They examined the resources of various peers, from large state institutions in California — an estimated 72,300 students in the U.S. without legal permission are enrolled in the University of California system, for example — to smaller, private universities and liberal arts colleges. Student advice on compiling an FAQ was solicited; various “high-touch” departments such as the Office of International Students and Scholars and the Office of Student Success Initiatives were consulted for advice. Even the Rice University Police Department did its part, answering students’ specific questions about how they might interact with police.

“Everybody was very responsive,” Taylor said. “Everybody understands the issues and wants to get as much information out there as possible.” In only three months, was up and running, with a full FAQ section, lists of campus, local and national resources and statements of university support, including President David Leebron’s Sept. 5, 2017 email to the Rice community when the White House administration announced plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and Rice’s undergraduate admission policy for DACA and undocumented students.

The website will continue to evolve as other questions arise and as the U.S. government’s position and policies on the DACA program are updated.

Student response to the website has been positive so far, Taylor said, emphasizing that Rice’s work in providing resources and support to DACA and students in the country without legal documentation is ongoing — helped in large part by the support Rice students have shown for their peers on campus.

“This is the perfect example of when students identify a need, the university reacts pretty quickly and the partnership with the administration is a productive one,” Taylor said. “My role was to try to just make it happen for the students; they figured out what we needed.”

About Katharine Shilcutt

Katharine Shilcutt is a media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.