Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Rooted members leave to pick up the pieces after SB 17 shuts down partnering program, Monarch

Amara Lopez

An anonymous alumna said she found herself overcome with disbelief and confusion upon the shutdown of Monarch, a program that provided resources and community for undocumented, DACA and other students with temporary status.

“It feels like we took one step forward and two steps back,” the anonymous alumna said.

UT discontinued Monarch on Jan. 1 in compliance with Senate Bill 17, which bans diversity, equity and inclusion trainings, offices and hiring practices in public Texas universities. Rooted, a collective of students, alumni and community members who previously provided research for Monarch’s programming, recently picked up Monarch’s mission of distributing practical resources for undocumented students. 

“This was a blindside for (Monarch) because we were promised that our program (would) be exempt,” the anonymous alumna said. 

The anonymous alumna said in 2022, Rooted conducted a study of about 240 UT students either undocumented, part of mixed-status families or granted temporary protective status. 

“About 60% of our students were having negative mental health impacts because of their status,” the anonymous alumna said. “Being an immigrant student, we have unique needs and experiences that add to the stressors of being a regular college student.”

An anonymous sophomore said Monarch once used Rooted’s research to develop practical resources for temporary-status students. 

“Monarch provided resources from the University such as workshops on how to open bank accounts without a social security number, or how to fill out FASFA,” the anonymous sophomore said.

Communication and leadership junior Victoria, who requested her last name not be printed, said that as Rooted takes over Monarch’s programming, it grapples with the inappropriate use of SB 17 that caused Monarch’s shutdown.

“Anyone can read section C of the UT System (SB 17 Working) Guidance that reads ‘Programs that enhance student achievements, without regards to sex, race, color or ethnicity are exempted,’” Victoria said. “We earned our admission here … we paid the school tuition, so we deserve answers.” 

The anonymous alumna said despite setbacks, Rooted continues to adapt quickly and will reconstruct the resources and services lost. 

“The collective was created on the premise of adaptability and knowing that the university is not always going to remain the same,” the anonymous alumna said. “We have this community that is passionate and cares about providing services for immigrant students.” 

Victoria said she still seeks answers from UT.

“We demand the university to explain the unlawful termination of Monarch,” Victoria said. “They never paid attention to us before, so we ask ‘Why now?’”

The anonymous alumna said the continuation of Monarch’s mission mirrors the persistence of temporary status students. 

“Right now we are having to pick up this work with the cut of the Monarch program,” the anonymous alumna said. “It’s just shown that sense of resiliency within ourselves that existed before — we’re still going to continue providing those services.”

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