Fourteen Students Jailed Protesting University Bans on Undocumented Students (UPDATE 1)
(APN) ATLANTA — On Monday, February 01, 2016, fourteen students, including six undocumented students, were arrested in civil disobedience actions at two universities.
Almost one hundred undocumented and documented students integrated classrooms at Georgia State University (GSU); the University of Georgia, Athens (UGA); and Georgia Tech.
The purpose of the sit-ins are to protest the Georgia Board of Regents’ ban on undocumented students from five Georgia universities and from qualifying for in-state tuition.
Georgia is the only state in the U.S. to ban students both from select universities and from in-state tuition.
Following a fifteen hour protest at Georgia State University, eight students were arrested. They were charged with criminal trespassing and taken to the Fulton County Jail. Their bond was 2,000 dollars each.
The arrestees at GSU are: Cole Rainy-Slavick, Brenda Gonzalez Castro, Luisa Steinbeck, Edgar Ortiz, Daniel Castillo Pastor, Angie del Arca, Arizbeth Sanchez, and Melanie Rivas Triana.
Six other students were arrested at UGA. They were taken to the Athens-Clarke County jail and charged with criminal trespassing. Bail was set at 1,500 dollars each.
The arrestees at UGA are: Sahra Chico, Carrie Freshour, Jonathan Garcia, Emma Krass, Yineira Lopez, and Jhoanna Padron.
All students have since been released on bond.
“I am personally affected by this discriminatory ban. I wanted to give a message to Georgia that we are willing to risk it all and things will only escalate. We won’t stop, this is not the end. Last year we did this at one location, this year at three locations, and they can expect more to come,” Daniel Castillo, one of the undocumented students arrested, told Atlanta Progressive News.
“If they won’t allow us to educate ourselves and dream, we won’t let them sleep,” he said.
“We’re taking our action to the classroom because we are determined to continue learning together despite the Board of Regents’ insistent segregation,” Melissa Rivas-Triana, an undocumented student at Freedom University, said in a press release.
The coordinated actions were organized by Freedom University, an Atlanta-based freedom school for undocumented students in Georgia.
This action brought together students from twelve universities including Harvard, Bard, Smith, College of Charleston, Morehouse, Spelman, Kennesaw State, Emory, University of Georgia, Georgia State, and Georgia College and State University.
It was planned for February 01 to honor and recognize the Greensboro Four, who on that day in 1960 integrated the Woolworth department store lunch counter. Those sit-ins lead to a policy change that ended racial segregation at that department store and in the U.S. South.
In the spirit of Greensboro, the students gathered at three campuses that are affected by the two policies, 4.1.6 and 4.3.4.
They demanded that the presidents of each school, Jere Morehead of UGSA, Mark Becker of GSU and Georgia Peterson of Georgia Tech, publicly denounce the discriminatory policies affecting their institutions.
“These students recognize that higher education is a human right that should be equally accessible to all on the basis of academic merit, not social status. They recognize that educational segregation simply has no place in the 21st century,” Dr. Laura Emiko Soltis, Executive Director, Freedom University, explained in a press statement.
Coincidentally, the civil disobedience took place on the same day the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled that the Regents cannot be sued.
Most college-bound undocumented students were brought to the United States as children and have excelled academically in high school; and the primary obstacle to college is no access to financial aid.
CORRECTION AND UPDATE 1: A previous version of this story, as well as a previous version of the title, stated that the fourteen students were each themselves undocumented. However, only six of the students were undocumented.