By Douglas Esser
Tim Kostersitz and Gregory Van Court are both first year students at University of Washington Bothell planning on careers in engineering. One of their first classes took them in a different direction and asked them to consider the plight of undocumented students. The future engineers welcomed the wider perspective.
Photo: Tim Kostersitz, left, and Gregory Van Court
“I think classes like that for general education will set you apart from everybody else, and you’ll be able to talk to people about issues that are happening outside of what you’re going to be doing in the future,” says Kostersitz who plans to finish an electrical engineering degree in 2020.
The Discovery Core class, BCORE 107G, held a support of Dreamers event Tuesday in the Activities and Recreation Center. It provided information about the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. It never passed Congress, but Washington state has a version. The event also was intended to support undocumented students at risk of possible deportation under a new federal administration.
Discovery Core is a series in UW Bothell’s First Year and Pre-Major Program (FYPP) that meets general education requirements. It introduces students to the University’s culture of interdisciplinary learning – ‘’taking a current issue and being able to apply theory, history and a larger social context,” says Loren Redwood, right, FYPP and School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences faculty.
The DREAM class also was an opportunity to engage students as citizens of the world who can organize for social change, Redwood says. Along the way she debunked myths about immigrants taking jobs, not paying taxes and draining the welfare system. Most undocumented immigrants do pay taxes and contribute to the economy, Redwood says.
“Rather than agree with any politics, my goal is that they understand the larger historic, economic and political contexts,” she says.
Before taking the class, illegal immigration was a “gray area” for Van Court, who’s working to graduate in 2020 with a degree in mechanical engineering.
“Now I feel like I can be an advocate for undocumented students and immigrants,” he says.
None of the 31 students in the class identified themselves as undocumented, and the number on the UW Bothell campus is unknown, Redwood says.
Nationally, more than 700,000 people who entered the United States as children are exempt from deportation with a temporary work permit under an executive order called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). President-elect Donald Trump has said he’ll rescind President Obama’s executive orders that he considers overreaching.
“The reason I do this is it’s important to me that undocumented students on this campus know that we’re here and support them and that we care about them, especially in this uncertain time,” Redwood says.
Chancellor Wolf Yeigh has said that, unless otherwise required by law, the University will not ask nor release immigration information or facilitate Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on campus.