Symposium will focus on immigration reform, tuition equity

Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 7:18 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 7:18 p.m.

The University of Florida Immigration Reform Symposium on Thursday evening will provide an open dialogue about tuition equity and provide a forum to discuss the impact of the reform.



What: UF Immigration Reform Symposium
When: Thursday at 6 p.m.
Where: Little Hall room L109 at UF
Admission: Free
Info: Visit

Intercultural Engagement, an organization within the UF Multicultural and Diversity Affairs department, will host the free event that will feature two different forums at UF in Little Hall room L109.

“Voicing Realities: Truth About Education and Legal Status” will begin at 6 p.m. and will focus on the importance of tuition equity for students living in the country without legal documentation. Sen. Dwight Bullard and Sen. Darren Soto will be panelists at the event.

At 7 p.m., “Becoming American: An Immigration Reform Forum” will explore what it’s like to go through the immigration system in the United States. During this forum, the audience will hear from students, staff and faculty on the panel, all of whom are of different backgrounds.

“Immigration is not an issue just for one community or another, but it’s impacted all communities of different cultural perspectives,” said Jarrod Cruz-Stipsits, director of Intercultural Engagement.

Cruz-Stipsits, 36, said students and staff members will share their firsthand experiences with immigration. He said some people only look at the political side of the issue instead of listening to the stories.

“No matter how we experience or understand immigration, it always has a human aspect to it, and there’s always a story behind it,” he said.

Philip Williams, director for the Center of Latin American Studies at UF, said immigration is a prevalent issue for Latinos because they have family members or personally know people who are affected by current immigration policies.

“For most Americans, it’s not an intensely personal issue,” he said. “For a lot of Latinos, it is.”

Williams will speak briefly about the historical context of the issue during the event.

The last time significant immigration reform legislation passed in Congress was in 1986. Williams said such legislation typically only surfaces every 20 to 30 years, and in some ways, the country is overdue.

Bullard will attend the forum to discuss the comprehensive immigration reform on a state level and explain how important current students can be in pushing this issue.

He said he has been filing bills for a number of years related to tuition equity, but his efforts have not been well-received.

However, he said some institutions such as Miami Dade College and Florida International University have already adopted this policy.

“It’s my hope that more schools within the state university system begin to get onboard with that idea,” he said. “I would love for UF to be one of those schools as well.”

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