Emory Group Goes to Bat for Undocumented Students | WABE 90.1 FM

Emory Group Goes to Bat for Undocumented Students

Oct 28, 2014

During the Freedom Summer of 1964, hundreds of college students flocked to Mississippi to help register African-American voters.  Fifty years later, that event is still inspiring other social movements, some of which also use the name ‘Freedom’. One such group at Emory University is sticking up for undocumented students.

Georgia Congressman John Lewis helped organize the Freedom Summer. He also delivered Emory’s commencement address last spring, where he urged students to support immigration reform.

U.S. Congressman John Lewis spoke at Emory's 2014 graduation ceremony.
Credit Michell Eloy / WABE

“It doesn’t make sense that we live in a country, we live in a society where more than 12 million people are living in the shadows, living in fear,” Lewis said. “That is not right. That is not fair, and that is not just. And you must get in the way and find a way to make a way out of no way.”

That resonated with Andy Kim, an Emory senior who has a problem with the school’s financial aid policy. Undocumented students can be admitted to Emory, but they’re classified as foreign-born. That means they have to pay the full tuition price of $44,000 a year.

“This is a policy that clearly discriminates against a large population of students, college-ready students, in Georgia and across the nation,” Kim says. “So, first and foremost, we absolutely have to change this policy.”

Kim co-founded a group called Freedom at Emory University. It’s made up of students and faculty. Members hope to meet with administrators to talk about changing the policy.

“This initiative is almost a product of my learning at Emory, like taking really phenomenal classes with fantastic professors that have taught me to challenge myself and I guess just face issues head-on,” he says.

Kim says he just wants to help others have the opportunity to do the same. He’d like to see Emory lead on the issue. As a private university, Emory isn’t bound  by some state policies, like the one that bars undocumented students from Georgia’s top five public colleges. The policy, passed in 2010, has prompted some high-achieving undocumented students to leave the state for college.

Emory issued the following statement: “Financial aid policies for the highly qualified, undocumented students who gain admission to Emory continue to be a source of discussion for us."