UPDATE: 06/04/13 4:08pm EST Common Application Director of Outreach Scott Anderson has confirmed to Colorlines that no changes have been made to their widely-used college application. “The Common Application has not made any announcement regarding undocumented students,” said Anderson. Anderson also confirmed that despite a splashy announcement to that effect made at a higher education conference by a person claiming to be named Daniel Vargas claiming to be employed by the organization, “There is no one named Daniel Vargas on our staff or Board of Directors.”
The announcement of the changes is a hoax. Late Tuesday activists revealed that Daniel Vargas is in fact David Ramirez, an undocumented immigrant and activist. Ramirez addressed participants at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education last week posing as a representative of the 35-year-old organization. Ramirez also claimed to be the communications director for the organization in a press release, which included a fabricated quote from Killion. An activist who claimed credit for the hoax said Ramirez and others staged the performance to call attention to barriers undocumented students face in education. Activists said they will release more information on Wednesday.
[OUR ORIGINAL POST IS BELOW. THE INFORMATION IN IT IS UNTRUE]
Undocumented students won a major victory in their fight for higher education access last week. On Thursday, The Common Application, Inc. the organization which organizes the unified college application students can use to apply to over 400 colleges, issued a formal apology to undocumented students who they’ve excluded from their work and materials for 35 years.
The apology came with two significant changes to the 2013-2014 version of the Common App. Unlike in past versions, those who are undocumented will have their own box to check in the application’s demographics section and the larger organization will add “undocumented status” to the group’s non-discrimination clause. Most importantly, it is a legally binding agreement for the 527 institutions which accept the Common App. The changes were announced at this year’s National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education.
“Private colleges inaccurately have been labeling undocumented students as international students which guarantees a separate and unequal admissions process. Until now, this discrimination has been permitted and facilitated by The Common Application, Inc,” Rob Killion, the group’s executive director said in a statement.
State legislatures and voters around the country are making steady progress in the fight for tuition equity for undocumented students—an important move on its own because undocumented students are neither eligible for federal aid or grants, nor are they recognized as residents of the states where they live. Therefore they must pay out-of-state tuition, two and three times the tuition they’d pay as residents unless states proactively offer tuition equity. But this new step is progress from another direction, because most of the colleges which accept the Common App are private colleges.
The change comes after immigration rights student-activists engaged in some creative activism to highlight the problem.