When the majority of students and faculty return to Cal Poly Pomona in the fall, there will be a new addition to the cluster of cultural centers occupying the old stables.
The Bronco Dreamers Resource Center, dedicated to the university’s growing undocumented student population, will open its doors officially in September, but those involved in making it a reality had a preview of it on May 25.
Visitors toured the center and left handwritten notes of encouragement to the students who will benefit from its services.
University President Soraya M. Coley lauded the students, alumni and staff involved in getting the center established and emphasized Cal Poly Pomona’s commitment to providing support that holds true to the theme of “One team, one goal – student success.”
“When the center officially opens in fall of 2017, it will be a tangible symbol of Cal Poly Pomona’s commitment to inclusion and the principle that all students are welcomed regardless of background, regardless of circumstance,” Coley said. “Every student whose life is transformed through their college experience is a student with the potential to change the world.”
In fall 2015, Cal Poly Pomona had 550 students who self-reported as AB 540 students, many of them undocumented. That number increased to more than 600 by fall 2016, and is expected to keep growing, Coley added.
Last August, Mike Manalo-Pedro was hired as coordinator of Undocumented Student Services, a new post created by the growing need.
Diana Escamilla, co-chair of the student organization Demanda Estudiantil Para Igualdad Educacional (DEPIE), shared her personal story about being an AB 540 student and the difficulties she faced navigating the university to get the help she needed when she first came to campus. The seed was planted at that time for her to be part of the effort for a center, she said.
“Although we have a center, the fight is not over,” she said. “Let the space not only be for undocumented people, but for all those in search of shelter.”
Lea Jarnagin, vice president for the Division of Student Affairs, praised the work of those who led the effort to open the center.
“There will generations of students and faculty and staff that are going to come behind you who will see the BDRC as a natural element at Cal Poly Pomona, just like we now see centers and spaces on our campus that have been here for years as just a natural element,” she said. “They come about because of the work of the collective. You have left a legacy, and that is powerful.”