The Undocumented Student Scholarship that was proposed by the 2016-17 GSBA Senate has undergone a change in funding method, and has dealt with delays that have impeded its progress over the year.
Originally, the scholarship called for an optional $2.50 tuition increase per semester for every student. Now, funding for the scholarship will be raised through donations, with the plan of creating an endowment.
“We realized that wouldn’t be the most efficient way, the best way, through Gonzaga,” said senior Sen. Rafael Castellanos-Welch, the leader of the Undocumented Student Scholarship campaign. “There isn’t any other scholarship [at Gonzaga] that is raised with students’ tuition. That hasn’t happened before.”
Additionally, due to the political nature of the issue, senators decided to make the scholarship discretionary.
“I think social justice and these issues around equity and inclusion or care for others needs to be a conscious choice,” said Dr. Raymond Reyes, the associate academic vice president and chief diversity officer at GU and an adviser to the senators working on the scholarship. “The students decided that it would be more fair and just to insert the element of freedom of choice.”
With the plan to make the scholarship endowment, senators hope to create a “more stable area of funds” to continue the campaign.
“We are trying to get it endowed, so that way, even if it’s a small scholarship in the beginning it still becomes a part of the Gonzaga fabric,” Castellanos-Welch said.
For a scholarship to reach endowment status it must raise $50,000, but at that amount of funding, the scholarship would only be able to provide $2,500 worth of aid per year. As a result, members of the campaign are hoping to gain funds from a wide base.
“It’s the notion of, ‘many hands make for light lifting,’ ” Reyes said. “No one person has to bear the full burden of the money involved in this idea.”
The scholarship has been over a year in the making.
Last spring, when the GSBA Senate approved the resolutions that provided a blueprint for the Undocumented Student Scholarship there was great optimism about the plan going into the 2017-18 year.
The Speaker of the Senate at the time, Nick Ramos, told The Gonzaga Bulletin in an April 2017 interview that he was not worried about this year’s GSBA’s ability to continue the work on the scholarship.
“We feel very positive it will continue into next year’s cabinet,” Ramos said in an article.
Ramos had hoped that the scholarship could be in place as early as the fall of 2018.
The shift in scholarship funding and the annual changing of the guard within GSBA caused much of the delay.
“There was somewhat of a lack of continuity,” Reyes said. “We lost some momentum and lost some traction and luckily a few students stepped up and said, ‘let’s pick this back up,’ but by that time it was already halfway through the academic year.”
Castellanos-Welch said that a lack of direction derailed the original timeline. “With our original idea of having the scholarship through tuition and that not having that clarified last year that that couldn’t happen, that was just a big waste of our time,” Castellanos-Welch said.
To ensure that a lack of continuity doesn’t occur again when Castellanos-Welch graduates, he has archived all his work from this semester and has successors in place to carry on the momentum toward creating the scholarship.
According to Castellanos-Welch, the new best case scenario timeline would have the scholarship achieving endowment status next year and by the 2019-2020 academic year applications would be available for students to apply.
If the worst case were to occur, the scholarship would not become endowed for years or would never endow at all and the scholarship would fail.
Moving forward, the senators are hoping to gain the support of the GU Faculty Senate and Staff Assembly before campaigning next year.
“It would be a lot easier to market this as more open if the faculty, senate and students want this,” Castellanos-Welch said.
Ian Davis-Leonard is a news editor. Follow him on Twitter: @ilowe714.