The SF State community celebrated the opening of the long-awaited Dream Resource Center in the Mary Park Lounge with food, refreshments, speeches and a spoken word performance Tuesday.
“It’s a beautiful thing, the celebration tonight. It’s a surreal thing,” said Norma Salcedo, AB 540 Dream Coordinator. “People have been emailing me saying ‘I can’t believe this day has finally come.’”
The SF State Undocumented/AB 540 Educational Equity Task Force, formed by staff and faculty, has worked toward having the center approved by the University since 2011.
Salcedo explained that not having a center didn’t stop task force members from helping students outside of their own 40-hour work week.
“They would spend hours after work supporting the students, time out of their personal day to gather resources and to come together to say ‘I have this student’s situation, how can I support them?’” Salcedo said.
Salcedo said it was a huge win for the task force when the University hired her to support undocumented students full-time.
The center also has the support of SF State President Leslie E. Wong.
“We will, to the best of our ability, defend our students and the dream center,” Wong said during his speech. “I want students to know that they can come here and pursue their education without having to worry.”
Students are looking to the center as a place they can trust.
“I know everyone at the center is undocumented or an ally so it makes me feel safe,” said Beyond Borders Chair Janet Lopez-Galindo. “I don’t have to feel paranoid, especially since all the executive orders by Trump.”
Lopez-Galindo is also part of Improving Dreams, Equity, Access and Success, a student-led organization that advocates for AB 540 and undocumented students who have also been working toward establishing the center.
Lopez-Galindo performed her original spoken-word poem “See Me” at the celebration, which discussed the dehumanization of undocumented immigrants.
“No longer human, no longer a woman, no longer a sister or a daughter, I am seen as nothing more than a political controversy,” Lopez-Galindo said while reading her poem.
In her poem, she expressed hope to eventually be seen for who she is, and not solely defined as undocumented.
Not everyone feels as comfortable talking about their undocumented status as Lopez-Galindo does.
Salcedo said the private space for students is making all the difference because it allows students to feel more comfortable when talking about personal problems. Having a concrete location also makes it easier for undocumented students to get access to resources.
Salcedo said she usually only sees an average of 3-4 students per day, but more than 40 students attended the center’s opening during winter recess Jan. 20.
“Most of them were students I had never seen before,” Salcedo said. “It was really heartwarming for me, like ‘Oh my God, the students needed this space.’”
The center is funded by Student Affairs and Associated Students Inc., according to Salcedo. ASI allocated $8,000 specifically for programming purposes in response to a proposal by IDEAS.
Programs in the past included collaboration with career services, legal organizations and financial aid. However, Salcedo said they won’t be focusing on programs as much this semester. Instead, they will concentrate on getting students ready for the Dream Act Application due on March 2.
“This semester we want to focus on some of the community aspects, kind of getting them to know each other,” Salcedo said. “There has been a lot of negativity around, a lot of anti-immigrant sentiment that has been really affecting them, so we want to focus on celebrating their achievements.”
The Mary Park Hall lounge is only a temporary location for the center, which will move to its permanent location in the Student Services Building before the end of the year.