Undocuversity project wants to highlight immigrants’ struggles
One student's project seeks to create a better campus for the undocumented.
February 2, 2017
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Issues that complicate the lives of the undocumented student community may be unknown to the majority of the student body, but the Undocuversity project is looking to change that.
Undocuversity is a semester long project by senior international studies major Jeff Ogle that aims to raise awareness about the rights of undocumented students and the issues they face in the United States.
After spending eight years working in the auto industry, Ogle decided to return to school at Cal State Long Beach and during his studies he became interested in issues affecting the undocumented student community and immigrants in the country.
“I believe that it is my civic duty to support those in the community, regardless of their status as citizens,” said Ogle. “As a citizen, I have the power, just like [immigrants] do, to spread information and educate others about the importance of their rights and the importance of them being here.”
Ogle believes that immigrants are important to the United States because different cultures can bring different perspectives to issues that may otherwise be thought about unilaterally.
“Having people here from other cultures really makes the country what it is today,” said Ogle. “I think that having them here and having them be in our communities and giving them the same opportunities that my ancestors did [have] is the most important thing that we can do. That means that we have to work with our state legislators, we need to work with our politicians.”
He noted that changes made by the President Donald Trump affect others more than him, but that his life has now been affected by a recent action taken by the President as well.
Ogle recently learned that a friend who holds dual citizenship in Germany and Syria will not be able to reenter the country because entry from Syria was suspended indefinitely by a recent executive order by President Trump on Jan. 27.
“Now it’s affecting me personally and this project is really important to me, more than it was before,” he said.
Ogle said that collaboration and education of those on campus are key aspects of the project.
Dream Success Center director Rafael Topete said that he commends Ogle for allowing the community to guide his research and attempting to learn about undocumented students by reaching out to them.
Ogle wants to have city officials speak with students about sanctuary cities, organize a panel of immigration lawyers and conduct a research survey for the Undocuversity project.
The research survey will be used to collect data on how undocumented students are engaging with resources available to them and what the university can do to improve services for the undocumented student community.
Ogle noted that the survey would be conducted anonymously, as he does not want to put any undocumented students in danger by revealing their identity.
“One of the major objectives is to connect with people as much as possible,” said Ogle. “I want students to find out how they can help.”
Ogle wants to build an interactive display on campus that students can use to share their experiences in writing or art, or view and attempt to understand the experiences of others.
“It’s not just having discussions and talking to people. Some people interact or have dialogues different than others. They’re more hands on, they’re more kinesthetic,” Ogle said. “So this is an opportunity for someone to share what they want to say, but they don’t necessarily have to go to a discussion or talk with someone.”
The display was originally going to be a wall that Ogle described as “ironic,” but he changed the idea to a series of walls that people can walk through after he received input from Chicano and Latino studies and sociology senior Norberto Lopez, of La Raza Student Association.
“I don’t know how people are going to take to this wall. But it’s definitely going to be a different reaction because of who is doing it,” Lopez warned.
Lopez said that if Ogle wants people to be willing to share their stories, he’ll first have to talk to them and establish a community on campus.
Though it is currently in concept, Ogle hopes to finish the display by March and have it placed in front of the Speaker’s Platform.
“I don’t want to walk away from this campus empty handed, and I don’t want to walk away from this campus with the faculty and administration empty handed. I want them to learn what I learned. What that looks like in May, I don’t know,” said Ogle.
With his findings, Ogle hopes to build create a constructive dialogue and bring as much awareness and support as possible to issues faced by the undocumented community.
Correction: This story has been updated with a correction on Jeffrey Ogle’s reason for returning to the university.