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UndocuAlly to host training to support undocumented students

| Monday, January 23, 2023

As a continuation of Notre Dame’s Walk the Walk Week, student group UndocuAlly ND will host a training session on Tuesday. The campus-wide event is open to anyone who wishes to better understand the immigrant experience and learn how to support undocumented students. 

Walk the Walk Week aims to inspire a stronger, more welcoming community on campus. Together, the Dream ND Community — a joint program of the Transformational Leaders Program (TLP) and the Office of Student Enrichment (OSE) — and UndocuAlly ND will host the training on Tuesday. 

UndocuAlly ND was founded in the fall of 2021 and serves as a training resource for the campus community to learn how to better support undocumented students. Senior Nicholas Crookston serves as both cofounder and interim lead of the club.

“Our mission is to support the critical work of Dream ND and engage the wider Notre Dame community around important conversations on allyship for our immigrant and undocumented community members, both at our University and beyond,” Crookston said. “We really summarize UndocuAlly ND in our mission statement — building our sanctuary at Notre Dame one student at a time.”

UndocuAlly ND is a training resource to help educate the campus community. The training itself is at 5 p.m. in the Coleman Morse lounge. Crookston explained that the training will last about an hour and a half and focus on three modules.

“The first module is building what we call an undocumented vocabulary which means using accurate terminology to use language that is both accurate and least harmful,” Crookston said. “Then we discuss and actually practice. Lastly, we also practice a ‘Know Your Rights’ module, which aims to engage our program members to feel empowered to confront anti-immigrant discrimination and abuse when it manifests in our community.” 

Fr. Joe Corpora — associate director of the Transformational Leaders Program (TLP) — calls all Catholics and everyone on campus to fight injustice and ignorance, particularly anti-immigrant discrimination.

“The best way students can help support their undocumented peers is by honestly learning about the situation,” Corpora said. “We must change the narrative. We must learn what’s really going on.” 

To truly understand immigrant and undocumented students, Corpora not only encourages attendance at the UndocuAlly ND training event but continued prayer for these students. He also urges all students to be aware of their words and to never make insensitive comments.

“You never know who is undocumented and how your words could affect them,” Corpora said.

In addition, he encourages all students to remember that Jesus himself was also a refugee and an immigrant. 

OSE director Consuela Wilson also said she believes caring for undocumented students directly ties into Notre Dame’s mission as a university.

Quoting the Dream ND Community’s website, Wilson said, “At the University of Notre Dame, we are committed to assembling a community of talented individuals regardless of their backgrounds, financial circumstances, or national origins.”

Caring for the outcast, the immigrant, the lonely and the poor just as Jesus did are all important parts of the Catholic faith, she added.

The training on Tuesday is the first step towards supporting undocumented students. To truly be an ally, the Dream ND and UndocuAlly ND communities argue that we must also live in solidarity with these students.

Dream ND and UndocuAlly ND believe that solidarity is a key part of Notre Dame’s identity and of the Catholic faith, which has been echoed by University President Fr. John Jenkins.

In his annual address to the faculty on Sept. 20, 2016, Jenkins said, “We are called to live in solidarity with all people, which arises from recognizing that the well-being of each person is a concern for us all. We are all, in one way or another, our sister’s and brother’s keeper. Solidarity demands that we strive to overcome fragmentation and separation to see the deeper unity we share with all people.”

To encourage this solidarity, Notre Dame offers a variety of ways to support its undocumented students.

“In terms of legal resources, the OSE works with an immigration lawyer to offer support and guidance to students with DACA status on topics such as renewals, early parole, and steps to obtain citizenship,” Wilson said. 

Wilson explained that Notre Dame does not just provide legal support for its undocumented students, but also supports them financially through the office of financial aid, along with resources through the OSE. Likewise, it supports students socially and academically through the TLP.

“Together, the OSE and TLP partner with campus partners such as the Institute for Latino Studies, student coalition for immigration advocacy (SCIA), University Counseling Center (UCC), the Center for Social Concerns (CSC), and campus ministry to serve our Dream ND community,” Wilson said.

All community members are encouraged to attend the training on Tuesday and can sign up online.

“Student by student, community member by community member, we want to empower people to have these conversations so all people at Notre Dame can flourish,” Crookston said.

Contact Gracie Eppler at [email protected].

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About Gracie Eppler

Gracie Eppler is from St. Louis, Missouri and lives in Flaherty Hall. Her top three favorite things ever to exist are Nutella, the ND drum circle and thesauruses (in that order).

Contact Gracie