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
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Rooted supports students following Monarch’s termination

The+UT+Tower+viewed+from+the+Turtle+Pond+on+October+6%2C+2023.
Atahan Koksoy
The UT Tower viewed from the Turtle Pond on October 6, 2023.

Every other Tuesday, students who are undocumented, have temporary status or are from mixed-status families gather to discuss experiences and connect with others navigating similar situations in an online support group hosted by UT Rooted Collective.

The group, which began last month, is part of Rooted’s larger initiative to replicate programs previously offered by UT’s Monarch program and is a collaboration with YWCA Greater Austin, a nonprofit providing no and low-cost counseling services. The University shut down the Monarch program in January partially because of Senate Bill 17.

“It felt like a really natural fit to bring YWCA in as a community partner to facilitate that support group that was going to just not happen if we didn’t bring somebody in,” said Ana Hernández, a Rooted member and UT alumna.


Hernández, now the YWCA development director, helped found Rooted in 2019. Hernández said the organization originally aimed to create a center for students that provided resources beyond what Monarch could do, though it has now shifted its focus to reinstating the Monarch program and supporting students affected by the loss. 

On top of the new support group, Hernández said Rooted is working to bring professional development and post-graduate opportunities to students. She said partnering with community groups is important because Rooted does not receive funding from the University, unlike Monarch previously did. 

“It has been having to scramble to create these things because Monarch really wasn’t given a heads up or an opportunity to adjust anything before the new year,” Hernández said. 

Rooted also re-released its 2021 study, which the University funded to better understand needs of students and alumni who are undocumented, have temporary status or are from mixed-status families, according to the Rooted Instagram. Rooted initially conducted the study to support the creation of a center.

“This data is still really relevant,” said Jocie Sobieraj, a Rooted member and alumna. 

“It’s still really recent. We’re really honing in on it because universities’ administration love data and they love numbers and we wanted to prove in this academically legitimate way … that there were needs and gaps.”

Hernández said Rooted believes that Monarch did not fall under SB 17 and should not have ended. SB 17 bans diversity, equity and inclusion offices at Texas public universities but doesn’t specifically restrict support for undocumented students. Sobieraj said Monarch’s termination has been retraumatizing for students who relied on Monarch’s services in everyday life. 

“We’re doing our best but this should be something the University provides and not falling again on students and volunteers,” Hernández said.

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