Travel policy decision raises discrimination allegation
Full disclosure: Miguel Morales is a founding member of the student group in question. He is also a JCCC Diversity Fellow.
Student members of JCCC’s campus group, Latinos United Now and Always (LUNA), claim JCCC administrators have violated its nondiscrimination policy.
“JCCC administrators are discriminating against some of us based on lack of documentation and on national origin. All JCCC students deserve to have the same opportunities and be treated equally” said Will Suarez, President of LUNA.
Seven members of LUNA planned to attend the National Council of La Raza national conference in San Antonio, Texas, July 10-13. Earlier this spring, the JCCC Student Senate awarded LUNA members funds to attend the conference, the largest Latino civil rights conference in the United States. Yet when members said when college administrators realized some of the students lacked government identification due to their immigration status, they decided to override the senate’s actions by withholding the previously awarded funds.
“We have been told that college administrators are denying some of us funding because they are concerned about the risks involving undocumented students, but being concerned is no reason to deny some of us funding,” Suarez said. “We are aware of the risks and we are willing to sign forms releasing the JCCC from liability, but college administrators are refusing to give us options.”
Rick Moehring, dean, Learner Engagement, said the allowing the students to drive to the conference placed them at risk. He cited the possibility of unsafe driving practices due to fatigue. He also added a concern that law enforcement officials could detain the students while driving leaving them without support.
Suarez and members of LUNA plan to address the JCCC Board of Trustees at the college’s monthly board meeting May 20. Suarez said LUNA will ask trustees to adhere to the college’s nondiscrimination policies and allow all seven members of LUNA to attend the conference. LUNA is also urging the college to establish an equitable travel policy for all JCCC students.
LUNA members expect to be accompanied by the JCCC Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; the Kansas Hispanic and Latino American Affairs Commission; El Centro Inc.; the KS/MO DREAM Alliance; and other leaders in the community. Suarez said LUNA will hold a press conference directly following the JCCC Board of Trustees meeting.
LUNA was founded on September 2008 at JCCC to educate people about Latin American culture and issues affecting the Latino community in the United States. LUNA is the first Latino student group founded at JCCC.
The JCCC Board of Trustees will meet Thursday, May 20 at 5 p.m. in the Hugh W. Speer boardroom, GEB 137, on the JCCC campus.