Students at Cerritos College are questioning why special NASA internships are restricted to their illegal immigrant classmates, and are urging the student senate to open the opportunity to all.
Last week, the Associated Students of Cerritos College Senate considered a funding increase to add two additional slots to the school’s coveted Arduino Internship Opportunity – part of the NASA California Grant Community College STEM Project, the Talon Marks reports.
The scholarship allows college students to create projects that are evaluated by NASA, and there’s currently 10 students participating. But some students at the meeting pointed out that the program is currently setup to benefit only “undocumented” students or international students, and should be available to everyone.
“I believe the senate wanted to cover the entire spectrum of people who are impacted by the restrictions in funding of the program, the amending today was to make sure they covered everyone,” ASCC Vice President David Ramirez said.
“The professors already have it at heart that they want to fund students who are undocumented, … or international students. They wanted that on paper,” he said. “I think that it’s not fair when students who have that capacity or exceed that capacity are not able to do so because the fact that they are deemed a category of people who are ineligible.”
Senator Robert Campbell seemed to agree.
“My concern is if we expand the scope of this or we reallocate absolutely anything, we want to make sure we don’t give just a certain specific group of people this opportunity,” he told Talon Marks.
“Especially if we increase it to more than two students like we did last year. We want to extend this opportunity to all students on the campus,” Campbell said.
“The wording that we had currently didn’t allow for anyone outside of undocumented … students.”Other students supported the push to formally restrict the special NASA internships to illegal immigrants and international students.
“Albert Einstein was an immigrant, and he was a genius,” Senator Christopher Rodriguez said. “I think it’s better to bring people from different countries and cultures, and gain from their knowledge.”
Ariana Hernandez, a member of the schools Dreamers Club, thinks it’s “unfair” all illegal immigrant students don’t automatically receive a NASA internship.
“I felt it was unfair to add only two students,” she said, “we do the same amount of work.”
And while some illegal immigrant students are eligible for in-state tuition, if they went to high school in California, Hernandez believes the student senate should to more to help them succeed.
“They have to add a total of six students” to the NASA internship program, “to include all students here at Cerritos College,” she said.
Neither the Cerritos College news release announcing the opportunity last year, nor promotional flyers for informational sessions for 2018, mention the fact that illegal immigrant students receive preference in the application process.
The Cerritos student government ultimately opted to table the discussion about the NASA internship until their next meeting.