Photo: George Mason University
The president of Virginia’s George Mason University on Wednesday called the state’s ban on allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at publicly supported educational institutions “a great injustice.”
“One of the problems we have, and we’ll see how it gets worked out, are the DREAMers (undocumented students), given that the state of Virginia doesn’t allow us to charge them in-state tuition,” Angel Cabrera told Efe in an interview in his office.
Out-of-state tuition is between double and triple the rate for Virginia residents.
“It’s a great injustice,” he said, noting the growing demographic weight of the Hispanic community in Northern Virginia, where GMU’s elegant and neat tree-filled campus is located.
The term DREAMers, derived from the DREAM Act, which remains stalled in the U.S. Congress, is used for young people who were brought to the country before the age of 16 and are enrolled in college or serving in the military.
“We have many students in that group, kids whose parents brought them from Bolivia when they were 4 years old and they haven’t ever returned to Bolivia. This is their home, they’ve gotten good grades, they’re people with potential and talent and when they come to the university, since they don’t have their papers in order, we make them pay for the sins of their parents,” Cabrera said.
The Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates each year has been rejecting proposals to allow DREAMers to be able to attend college at a reduced price.
“We’re trying to promote a change in attitude. (Recently) there was a bill in the state legislature in Richmond sponsored by a Republican lawmaker which seems to be a change. Perhaps next year,” Cabrera said.
Cabrera, a Spaniard who became president of GMU in July 2012, said that his institution “is one of the most diverse universities you can find” in the United States.
“The most interesting thing, something that we comment on with great pride, is that in contrast to the majority of universities, here minority students don’t get worse grades than the white majority,” he said.
“The average is similar, in fact. Last year, the group that got the best results was the Hispanics, something that is not very normal,” Cabrera told Efe.
Latinos make up around 10 percent of the roughly 34,000 students at George Mason University, which in 2013 headed the list of the 10 most innovative universities in the United States.