The UndocuAlly training program helps participants better understand the specific needs and challenges facing the undocumented student community.

Supported by allies

The Undocumented Student Program and undocumented students on the UC Berkeley campus receive a great deal of support from allies. Staff and faculty allies of the undocumented student community played a key role in establishing the USP in 2012, and these “UndocuAllies” continue to invest in strengthening the program.

One of their key contributions has been to develop a special course – UndocuAlly Training Program – designed to help faculty, staff, and students on campus understand the history of the undocumented community, as well as the present needs and challenges undocumented students face.

Surveying the needs

Before developing the first training, UndocuAlly founders spent a year assessing the needs of students and the campus at large, preparing the project proposal, and running pilots of the program. For the needs assessment, the project founders conducted pre and post surveys. The results from these surveys helped determine content for the UndocuAlly trainings.

For example, the results showed that many undocumented students do not readily divulge their undocumented status because they fear retaliation. The founders therefore identified gaining trust as an essential step to determining the number of undocumented students on campus, and being able to reach out to them. As well, the surveys demonstrated an overwhelming need for spaces where undocumented students feel safe.

In addition to shaping the trainings, the survey results are used to develop other support programs, measure the impacts of the USP, and to obtain program funding.

The two-day training program

We ran the first official UndocuAlly training in the spring 2013 semester. As of fall 2019, 360 staff and faculty members from dozens of campus departments had participated in the training. The two-day, eight-hour workshop is free and we offer it a minimum of once each semester, with tailored training available for specific groups.

We accept applications for UndocuAlly on a first-come-first-served basis, however, in order to best support the student community, preference is given to staff who are in departments that have not yet had representation in the training. To ensure program quality and interactive participation, we limit attendance to 25 people.

The UndocuAlly training covers the following topics:

  • History, laws, and policies affecting undocumented youth
  • Statistics on UC Berkeley’s undocumented student body population
  • Information about resources for undocumented students on campus
  • Examples of the lived experiences of undocumented youth on campus and in the community at large
  • Discussion about what it means and how to become an ally to undocumented students
  • Opportunities to connect with other staff to share ideas on supporting undocumented youth

At the end of the second day of the training, faculty and staff are invited to sign an agreement that outlines their roles and responsibilities as an UndocuAlly. Participants also receive an UndocuAlly sticker they can display in their offices as a symbol of support and to bolster unity on campus. As well, we post a list of all the individuals who have completed the training and signed the UndocuAlly Agreements on the USP website. The list and the stickers help students and allies know who is part of this growing community.

UndocuAlly funding and administration

A planning committee composed of UC Berkeley staff administers the UndocuAlly program and ensures that the responsibilities and workload are shared. Members of the planning committee come from a variety of campus divisions, including the Educational Opportunity Program/Undocumented Student Program, the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office, the Multicultural Community Center, the Multicultural Student Development Office, and Staff Diversity Initiatives. Participation on the committee is generally considered volunteer time.

The start-up costs for UndocuAlly totaled $12,000. USP later advocated to have the program combined with staff diversity initiatives for a one-time allocation of $50,000 to cover personnel, coordination, etc. The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion and Learning + Organizational Development provided the major funding. UndocuAlly used its initial budget to hire undergraduate student fellows to learn how to train and then teach the programs. (This structure provided the additional benefit of creating work-study positions and a leadership development opportunity for students.)

Over the last few years, the training has evolved for more staff and faculty to be able to participate.

Considerations for Getting Started

  • Which staff and faculty or departments might be willing to organize or implement training to help others on campus better understand the undocumented student experience?

Additional Resources Download Training Campus Allies

Includes: Funding Proposal 2013-14, UndocuAlly Training Summary Report from May 2013, UndocuAlly Training Evaluation forms Day 1 and Day 2