BY ISN STAFF | August 14, 2014
Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine recently welcomed their Class of 2018, including seven “DREAMers.” The milestone came nearly two years after Loyola Stritch became the first medical school to amend its admissions policies to include qualified students who have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and are legally recognized U.S. residents. Medical school leaders celebrated the presence of these students with an on-campus press conference where Linda Brubaker, MD, MS, dean and chief diversity officer, said, “Our social justice tradition called us to take a leadership role in offering educational opportunities to underserved groups, including qualified applicants with DACA status.”
In a sign of solidarity with their new peers, numerous Stritch School of Medicine student organizations published the following public letter in support of Loyola University Chicago’s commitment to accepting undocumented students:
Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine is the first medical school to allow Dreamers with DACA status to apply and be accepted into their medical school. Furthermore, Loyola SSOM has partnered with the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) to create a loan program that offsets the fact that students with DACA status are ineligible for federal student loans, loans that are essential for most students to attain a medical education.
Just last week, as the 160 new incoming first year students arrived at Stritch for their first year orientation, among them were seven Dreamers of DACA status. Since our medical school is the only school in the nation that explicitly allows DACA status students to apply, many people often wonder how the current Loyola student body feels about these Dreamers. As current students, we would like to respond to this question. We are proud of all the new students that join the SSOM community and the Dreamers are no exception. We unequivocally support our school for living up to it’s ideal of a “faith that does justice” and furthermore we believe that social justice requires that their immigration status be normalized.
As elected leaders of student organizations integral to the educational life of our school, we have taken it upon ourselves to organize forums that educate our peers and allow them to ask questions. It has been our experience that once they attend these forums and have their questions answered, they share our enthusiasm in supporting our school’s decision. The seven Dreamers are part of our medical school family and as a student body we believe in welcoming them and ensuring that they feel supported. We know that they have competed on their own merits to join our community. They were not shown any preferences and many times they’ve had to overcome many obstacles that none of us have faced to chase our shared dream of serving others through medicine. In a time when the United States is in need of medical professionals, the thought of repealing DACA and ripping away the opportunity to serve from our new fellow students seems at best, nonsensical, at worst, mean spirited.
Eligibility for DACA status requires that an undocumented immigrant arrived in this country prior to the age of sixteen and has been in this country at least five years. The average age at which our seven peers of DACA status arrived in the United States is less than 9 years old. They have been in the United States an average of 16 years and have obtained all of their higher education in this country. While they often bring particular talents, such as being bilingual and bicultural, that will enable them to serve some underserved populations well, their experience is not appreciably different from our own. They competed on a level playing field, strictly on their merits, with several thousand applicants for the roughly 160 seats in an entering class at the Loyola Stritch School of Medicine. To deny any of them a seat in the medical school class, to deny any of them a chance to serve the society in which they were educated, to deny any of them the right to remain in this country, is as unjust as it would be to deny these things to us or any of our other classmates.
Any personnel of the Admissions Office at Loyola will tell you: the Admissions office makes no mistakes. The applicants which are granted entrance into Loyola not only deserve it, but they are also talented men and women who will grow into doctors who embody the ideals of a Jesuit education, i.e. physicians for others. We call upon all alumni and friends of Jesuit education to seek justice for our peers of DACA status. Simple respect for the gifts and talents shared among us and future generations of medical professionals require that we steward these vocations, not waste them in acts that can only make sense in terms of partisan political warfare.
Christopher G. Larsen
President, Medical Student Union
Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA)
Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA)
Leziga Ture Obiyo
Student National Medical Association (SNMA)
Organization of Student Representatives (OSR)