Education is one of the most important commodities in the world, and many of us are privileged enough to have access to education in the United States. However, this is not the case for millions of undocumented immigrants who currently live in the U.S, but are unable to access higher education. Millions came to America in order to further their studies, and have an opportunity to chase after the American dream. Unfortunately, many academically gifted immigrant students have been barred from top universities in states like Georgia. For that reason, four professors from esteemed universities in Georgia have banded together in order to provide academically gifted students a chance to learn in a university environment, with the hopes that one day the students will be admitted to top Georgia universities.
Freedom University, the name of the unofficial academic institution, boasts a remarkable faculty of four professors who teach undocumented students once a week on Sundays. The faculty receives no pay, and teaches the students in an undisclosed building in Athens, Georgia. Students and professors have been forced to meet in secret due to the passing of a resolution that bans undocumented students from attending five of the top universities in Georgia. The University Council of the University of Georgia passed the bill last fall, and is a big win for those who believe that undocumented students should be kept out of Georgia’s top tier of schools. According to the Board of Regents, undocumented students were allowed into Georgia’s highest ranking universities for the past two years and this issue became a tipping point for the public. Taxpayers and documented students became frustrated over the fact that they paid the taxes and tuition rates, but the undocumented students paid neither. However, the board states that the decision to pass the resolution is not based on monetary reasons because some undocumented students pay more than legal students. The crux of the point is that the board does not want undocumented students taking away seats from documented students in Georgia, especially during these difficult economic conditions.
Unfortunately, the issue that many undocumented students at Freedom University are faced with is the fact that they identify themselves as Americans. Students like Karl Kings and Leeidy Solis were brought to the United States by their parents when they were one or two years old, and have no recollection of their native countries. They want to attend elite Georgian universities because they feel that their academic achievements should be enough to qualify them into a top competing institution. Regrettably, their undocumented status hinders them from attending the school of their dreams or pursuing the career that they have always envisioned. Though Freedom University provides these academically gifted students an opportunity to learn in an aggressive college environment with qualified professors, they receive no credit for having attended the classes. Thus, the students spend their time studying and excelling at Freedom University, but there is no way for them to show that they have attended college-level classes.
The idea of Freedom University is an interesting one, and shows that there are doors open for undocumented students. It is understandable that documented students feel upset when they realize undocumented students are taking up seats in the top five universities in Georgia. However, there still needs to be an avenue for academically gifted undocumented students who have the grades to make it into the top schools. Perhaps, top universities can affiliate themselves with Freedom University and allow the students to attend classes at the school of their dreams. Then, the students will have a chance to get a degree through Freedom University and an affiliated school. In this way, the undocumented students will not be encroaching on the seats of documented students, but can still make use of their academic skills. However, none of this can come to fruition if the Board of Regents does not revisit the resolution that bans undocumented students from top Georgia universities. Hopefully a change can be made, and a balance can be struck between documented and undocumented academics.