On Tuesday May 16, Atlanta community members interrupted a Georgia Board of Regents (BOR) meeting to show their disapproval of banning undocumented students from public universities of Georgia.
According to Freedom University, a university that provides free classes to undocumented students, the disruption was coordinated by students from 9 universities including itself, Spelman College, Georgia State, Emory University, Morehouse College, Georgia Institute of Technology, Agnes Scott College, Clark Atlanta University, and University of Georgia. The cohort that participated also included other community members such as pastors, teachers, artists and retired workers.
Eight of those involved were arrested at the BOR after the demonstration, however the community members were released later that evening. The disruption followed the pledge of allegiance and started with words from Reverend Jonathan Rogers claiming that the ban is one similar to segregation according to a Freedom University press release.
“We know what it’s called when people are excluded based on social status and not on their academic merit; it’s called segregation. We urge you to repeal policies 4.1.6 and 4.3.4. To come for one of us is to come for all of us” said Rodgers as stated in the release.
BOR Policy 4.1.6 states that an individual that is not in the United States lawfully can not be eligible for admission to any University System institution. Policy 4.3.4 specifies that all University System institution are required to verify the lawful presence of every admitted person applying for in-state tuition, and of every person admitted to an institution.
JT Pennington, a Georgia State student that was arrested, said that the purpose of the demonstration was to show support to undocumented students and to oppose BOR policies 4.1.6 and 4.3.4.
“I along with 7 other allies of Freedom U. Georgia interrupted the Board of Regents meeting to protest against policies 4.1.6 and 4.3.4.,” Pennington said. “It’s essential for students to stand up against what is effectively modern day segregation. I and so many others wouldn’t be here at Georgia State if it weren’t for the people before me who fought for my right to attend this school. Now it’s our turn to fight with those who still have yet to see such freedom.”
In addition to the demonstration, a publication of “A New Appeal for Human Rights”, which is an extension of the “Appeal for Human Rights” written in 1960 by the Atlanta Student movement, was disrupted. It stated the human right violations endured by people of the generation, including issues concerning undocumented students and the LGBT community.
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