Students come to the Robert D. Haas Undocumented Community Resource Center (UCRC) to receive up-to-date legal and campus-related information, use the shared resources, or meet up to study and socialize. Most importantly, it’s a place where students feel at home.
A place to gather, a place to belongThe Robert D. Haas Undocumented Resource Center is the main campus hub for undocumented students.
The Robert D. Haas Undocumented Community Resource Center (UCRC) is a space where students can access professional academic counseling, mental health support, peer support, use tools and resources (such as computer stations and books), and study between classes. More than that, it is a place where undocumented students can create community.
How we started and how we’ve grownIn total, it cost $75,000 to establish our original Robert D. Haas Dreamer Resource Center. The majority of these funds came from Elise Haas, who made a generous donation in honor of her father, Robert D. Haas. The donation recognizes Robert D. Haas as a longstanding champion of equity and inclusion at UC Berkeley. As well, it celebrates the perseverance of undocumented young people at Berkeley and beyond. In 2018, additional funding was provided to relocate and establish a new and expanded space, which opened in February 2020 and was named the Robert D. Haas Undocumented Community Resource Center.
I never knew there were so many people like me until I came to the Haas [Undocumented Community] Resource Center, I never knew I had a community, I never knew I had support. It’s a space to be me without fear.
In its first year, more than 90 percent of the undocumented students on campus used the Center at least once. In the 2015-2016 academic year, the space served over 380 undocumented students.
Our new UCRC (as of February 2020) is in 180 Cesar Chavez Student Center and houses Mental Health Support, Immigration Legal Support, as well as a community gathering and study lounge for our students. Many undocumented students feel that the “Dreamers” narrative frames them as good, hardworking undocumented people deserving of citizenship, while vilifying their parents/guardians and others who don’t match that stereotype. Therefore, students developed a more inclusive name for the new Center.
Working together for changeHaving a community space has a tremendous impact on how supported students feel. It is also a key way to ensure that students know about and can access available services. As such, the USP has advocated for centers like the Resource Center to be established on all public high school and college campuses. On June 5, Fabiola Guttierez, a USP student leader, addressed the California Assembly Committee on Campus Climate about the potential impacts of California’s Assembly Bill AB 2009:
Although getting accepted into UC Berkeley was a very important step in my life, it was also the beginning of a whole new set of challenges. Not a day passed where I didn’t think about my immigration status and the constant threat of deportation. I struggled with feelings of loneliness and isolation being on a campus where I felt like I was the only undocumented person.
I received a light of hope because I learned that the Undocumented Student Program at Berkeley had been created. For the first time, I felt like I had the support system at Berkeley that I needed to be successful. I now had a space on campus that I could go to for help without fearing how they would react if they found out I was undocumented. This became especially visible with the creation of the Dreamers Resource Center. I finally felt not only like I belonged at the university, but also like we were physically being represented and given a voice on campus.
A resource center for every campusIn August 2016, the California Legislature responded to the hard work of student leaders and movement builders across CA by passing Assembly Bill AB 2009, Student Support Services: Dream Resource Liaisons. This bill mandates the development of a resource center for undocumented students on all California college and university campuses. This is an exciting and positive step forward. As the first university to have an undocumented student program, UC Berkeley played a unique role in the decision-making process, and our students were invited to provide testimonials describing some of the USP’s services and their impact.
Considerations for Getting Started
- Is there an existing physical space on campus that could become a dedicated center for undocumented students? – Consider places with ample space for students to congregate, rest, convene, study, access computers, etc.
- Which student groups and allies, including staff and faculty, might be able to provide recommendations for a space?
- Are there particular donors who could provide financial support to tailor a space for undocumented students, or to help build one?
Includes: Application for original campus space; photos of opening reception