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Jay Alvarez, center, presents Resolution No. 23 at the Wednesday, Feb. 10, SGA meeting. Photo credit: Leann Endsley

Alvarez: ‘That’s not fair’

The Student Government Association will potentially recommend the implementation of tuition equality for students who are undocumented Tennessee residents in accordance with Resolution No. 23.

Sen. Jay Alvarez authored Resolution No. 23 and presented it at the Wednesday, Feb. 10, SGA meeting. Alvarez said he formed this legislation after discussion with the political science department.

“There are students here who have lived [in Tennessee] for 15 or 16 years of their life who were not specifically born in the U.S. that have to pay out-of-state tuition in a state that they’ve lived most of their life in,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez said this resolution is especially important because of the recent 250R plan APSU implemented which gives students within a 250 mile radius in-state tuition.

“It’s so unfair to have a student who hasn’t even lived here to be able to get in-state tuition and people who have lived here for pretty much their whole lives can’t get it,” Alvarez said. “That’s not fair.”

Alvarez said members of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) helped him with the idea for the bill.

TIRRC is “a coalition of immigrants, refugees and allies working to lift up fundamental American freedoms and human rights and build a strong, welcoming and inclusive Tennessee,” according to their website.

Statewide Youth Organizer for TIRRC Cesar Bautista visited APSU on Nov. 2, 2015, to host a discussion on whether or not undocumented Tennessee residents should be eligible for in-state tuition.

Bautista said one of the reasons why tuition equality is needed is because of how difficult it is to become a citizen in the U.S.

“Each country requires you to have certain requirements in order to apply,” Bautista said. “The line is beyond 15 years to wait and that’s not even a guarantee.”

A bill similar to Alvarez’s recently failed in the Tennessee General Assembly in April 2015 with a 49-47 vote. This bill would make undocumented U.S. residents eligible for in-state tuition at Tennessee Board of Regents and University of Tennessee schools.

Alvarez’s resolution will be debated at the next SGA meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

SGA also confirmed new Sen. Lamarcus Day.

Day is one of four senators from the College of Behavioral and Health Science, alongside Sens. Glenna Beaty, Blaine Gundersen and Julia Matthews.

Sen. Jordan Kent also presented Act No. 9 which would fix an issue with the wording of the SGA Standing Rules.

Currently, the standing rules are ambiguous in the number of absences members of the Executive Council are allowed per semester.

Act No. 9 and Resolution No. 23 will both be debated at the next SGA meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 17, at 4 p.m. in the Morgan University Center room 307.

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