March 14, 2012
The Faculty Senate vs. The Georgia Senate
By David Schick
The Faculty Senate has taken a stand on the controversial political issue of illegal immigrants attending Georgia public colleges.
While the Faculty Senate adopted a resolution in favor of admitting illegal immigrants to all Georgia public colleges, there were concerns on both sides of the possible backlash.
“I’m going to vote for it, but there will be repercussions,” said Dr. Thomas Graham, associate professor of history at the Dunwoody campus.
Many Georgia legislators are currently working to pass Senate Bill 458, which would ban illegal immigrants from all Georgia public colleges. Graham predicted, “They’re going to cut our budget.”
The sponsor of the resolution, Beth Wallace, an English as a second language instructor at Clarkston and Dunwoody campuses, stated that, “The [Georgia] Legislature’s points on higher education shouldn’t be so strict … if all these bills pass, we’re going to be stronger than Arizona.”
The accepted resolution is requesting the removal of the Board of Regents Policy which states that an “undocumented person” can’t be admitted before the admission of all academically qualified students. However, the policy would become obsolete if SB 458 passes.
A vote wasn’t recorded, but about three faculty members opposed.
“I don’t see why the whole institution is going to change to suit the needs of a few individuals instead of the other way around,” said Dr. Jason Dew, associate professor of English and honors program coordinator at the Dunwoody campus. Dew voted against the resolution because he believes, “It comes down to, not a moral issue but, simply following the rules.”
Dew claimed that by passing this resolution the Faculty Senate has voiced a position contrary to the Georgia Capitol and has in effect bitten the hand that feeds them. “Dr. Tricoli will have to smooth out the wrinkles.”
On Feb. 22, Chancellor Hank Huckaby of the University System of Georgia went before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss SB 458, citing that about 300 undocumented students attend the USG and all of those students pay the out-of-state tuition rate, about three times more than in-state tuition.
“The issue before us is a complex one with strong feelings on all sides … I believe our current policy addresses the concerns some of you have … that no Georgians should be denied a seat in college if they were academically qualified because of an undocumented student and that educating undocumented students would not cost Georgia taxpayers,” said Huckaby.
Currently, nothing in federal law precludes admission of illegal immigrants and only two states, Alabama and South Carolina, ban them from attending public colleges.