JCCC will no longer sponsor Texas trip by Latino students
- By Jim Sullinger
- Kansas City Star
- Published Saturday, June 19, 2010, at 12:06 a.m.
Johnson County Community College won’t be sponsoring a trip by Hispanic students to the National Council of La Raza conference in San Antonio next month.
College officials and the Hispanic organization couldn’t reach agreement on travel arrangements.
The original plan called for seven students — members of Latinos United Now and Always — to fly to the July conference. The college would have paid for the trip using student fees.
But the students rejected that idea because two of the seven were undocumented and might not be able to get through security.
The students wanted to drive to the conference. But that ran afoul of a college policy that prohibits sanctioned trips by car for students, faculty or college officials if the destination is more than 500 miles away. College officials said the policy was there for safety reasons.
Will Suarez, former LUNA president who graduated last month, said he and another student will make the trip on their own, but the other five LUNA members will not be going to the conference.
Earlier in the school year, LUNA asked the Student Senate to approve expense money for the trip. The Student Senate granted the request. Those dollars are coming from a student fee, and no tax dollars are involved.
College officials also offered to arrange travel by train, but the students feared that Amtrak also would require identification. One alternative offered by students was to travel to San Antonio by bus using the El Conejo bus lines.
However, college officials vetoed that idea saying the bus line was unreliable and not considered suitable transportation.
At that point the college withdrew its sponsorship of the trip.
The issue came up at Thursday’s meeting of college trustees when several members of the public objected to the enrollment of undocumented students.
Terry Calaway, college president, said the college was only following Kansas law.
He said that under state statutes undocumented students are entitled to receive the in-state tuition rate if they reside in Kansas, complete three years of high school in the state and graduate and sign an affidavit stating they are in the process of obtaining U.S. citizenship.
Jon Stewart, board of trustees’ president, said people who object to that law need to take their case to the Legislature.