The USP is structured as both an integrated part of UC Berkeley, through the Centers for Equity and Excellence, and as a distinct program, with largely autonomous decision-making and eight direct staff positions, including Director, Academic Counselor, two Immigration Attorneys, two Paralegals and two Psychologists.

Helping students succeed

The USP is a natural fit as part of Cal’s Centers for Educational Equity and Excellence (CE3). CE3 are a cluster of equity programs designed to empower and support nontraditional, under-served, and underrepresented students, including low-income students, students of color, current and formerly undocumented students, LGBTQ students, and other populations. CE3 examines the issues that keep students from entering the university, and the factors that help them succeed once they’re here.

In particular, we work with CE3’s Research and Mobilization Coordinator whose job it is to examine cross-cutting issues, such as food insecurity and the high cost of living, that impact all the students who are served by the centers. We work together to address these issues at the institutional level.

The USP decision-making structure

Roughly 80 percent of the USP’s decision-making is autonomous. However, when we work with large donors, UC Berkeley becomes more closely involved, sometimes taking the lead, sometimes assuming a supporting role. Such large donor engagement accounts for about 10 percent of our decision-making.

The final 10 percent of our decision-making is reserved for student input, which enables the USP to facilitate healthy dialogue between senior leadership and front-line student activists.

Our four staff positions

In addition to working with staff who are part of the CE3 umbrella, the USP itself has eight full-time staff positions.

  • Director – Our Director oversees the USP as a whole. Under the Director’s guidance, the program works to support further initiatives, research, and advocacy to create safe spaces for undocumented members of the campus community. Our Director is also an active member of the E4FC Educators Action Group (EAG) and sits on the Standing Committee for Undocumented Members of the On-Campus Community.
  • Two Immigration Attorneys and two Paralegals –

    Through the USP/EBCLC partnership, our attorneys and paralegals work full-time to help students navigate the complex immigration law system. They also help take undocumented students and their families through the legal steps necessary to become pre-documented residents, which in turn allows them access to other immigration and employment benefits. All services are provided free of charge.

  • Academic Counselor – Our Academic Counselor provides students with tailor-made support transitioning to the university, selecting courses, choosing their major, understanding course requirements, exploring career options, connecting to resources, and preparing for life after graduation. The Academic Counselor also helps students manage the various extenuating circumstances and unexpected crises that may impact their lives, while ensuring their progress toward graduation.
  • Two Psychologists – Our Psychologists work from an office on campus to coordinate multiple dimensions of student wellness, and provide direct mental health support for undocumented students. Counseling is available by appointment, or during one of the two weekly drop-in shifts. In addition to providing direct mental health services, the Psychologists are responsible for organizing community events and workshops, leading efforts to coordinate our wrap-around mental health services model (which provides financial relief for psychiatric, pharmaceutical, and medical services that are related to mental health), and helping mental health providers at the University’s Counseling & Psychological Services department increase their cultural understanding of the unique mental health barriers faced by undocumented students.

You can read the bios of USPs current staff here.

Considerations for Getting Started

  • Are there other established programs on your campus focused on equity and inclusion that can support and host a program for undocumented students?
  • Which of your programs require specialized skills (i.e. counseling, legal services) or training?
  • Do you have someone to oversee the program as a whole? What skills does this person need? What training?
  • How will you fund your staff positions?

Includes: USP Organizational Chart