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ISSUE 121 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/14/2008

Rally fights for 'Dream'

By Mara Fink
Associate Editor

Friday, March 14, 2008

Students from high schools and colleges across the state demonstrated March 4 at the Minnesota State Capitol in support of the Dream Act, a movement to allow undocumented students in Minnesota to pay in-state tuition at Minnesota state universities and colleges.

At the rally, students demonstrated outside of the capitol building and also met with their state legislators to talk about what the Dream Act meant to them.

Vitaly Buldakov, a Fulbright Scholar from Russia who is studying at St. Olaf this year, said he did not know much about the Dream Act before attending the rally, but now is a supporter

He said he especially enjoyed seeing the political process in action.

"It was impressive being a Russian citizen; I never expected [the demonstrations] to be like this," Buldakov said. "It was a real rally. It was well organized and I liked the atmosphere. I also liked the power that seemed to be in the rally."

Melissa Yang '10 also attended and agreed that the atmosphere felt especially energized.

"The students were really enthusiastic and I believe that events benefited the high school students, us, and the legislators," Yank said. "I was really pumped up just because the students were really excited."

The bill would apply to undocumented students who have attended high school in Minnesota for at least three years, graduated from a state high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma, been accepted to and registered at a public college or university and if necessary signed an affidavit saying they are seeking or will seek to obtain U.S. citizenship.

According to the Minnesota Immigration Freedom Network, 65,000 undocumented students in the United States graduate from high school each year.

As of now, undocumented students must pay out-of-state tuition rates in order to attend a public university or college and are ineligible for federal and state aid as well as most merit-based scholarships.

As a result, many cannot afford the steep tuition rates for college, according to Jenny Kramm '10. Kramm is the co-founder of La Puente, a group that works to unite organizations at St. Olaf who work to serve the Latino population with groups in the community with like-minded goals.

Kramm, who played the role of coordinator to get St. Olaf students out to the rally, said this is an equality issue.

"I think it's about recognizing privilege and realizing we have privilege," Kramm said. "We are all experiencing the blessing of higher education. I don't know how everyone got here and I know we come from different backgrounds, but we need to recognize that everyone should have the right to higher education."

Laura Guzman '10, president of Presente, a multicultural Latino student organization on campus, agreed with Kramm.

"This is about equal access to higher education for everybody," Guzman said. "It's hard to expect people to advance in school and education when they aren't given the opportunity they deserve, and a lot of these kids deserve it."

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