WSU creates advisory board for undocumented students

Pattinson,-left,-and-LoeraPULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University’s new Advisory Board for Undocumented Students will hold its first meeting 10-11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 21, in Lighty 260W.

Its creation stems from work by the statewide Coalition for Undocumented Students led by WSU. The coalition formed three years ago when WSU’s Office of Access, Equity and Achievement received a grant from College Spark Washington to research best practices in serving undocumented students.

Coordinating support

Several key pieces of legislation – including Washington House Bill 1079, which in 2003 granted in-state tuition for undocumented students, and Washington Senate Bill 6523, which if passed will make undocumented students eligible for state need grants – have prompted universities and colleges to improve outreach and support for these students and their families.

Undocumented students lack proper immigration papers but, according to Educators by Educators for Fair Consideration, they have lived in the United States for most of their lives. Those who seek a college education are typically the first in their families to do so; they are not familiar with higher education systems and funding sources.

Localizing efforts

With the grant coming to an end in June, coalition members are moving to establish localized advisory boards for undocumented students to help carry on the work to ensure students receive the help they need.

“The coalition has conducted a lot of research to identify the specific needs of undocumented students and the kinds of services that are most effective in helping them,” said Marcela Pattinson, who coordinates undocumented initiatives and outreach at WSU. “The next step is to develop a leadership team on each campus in the form of an advisory board that will oversee efforts to improve services for undocumented students.”

Improving retention, graduation rates

At WSU Pullman, Pattinson and Lucila Loera, assistant vice president for access, equity and achievement, recently sent invitations to key stakeholders across campus.

In the letter, Pattinson and Loera wrote, “The advisory board is being launched … to improve services, retention rates and graduation rates for undocumented undergraduate and graduate students on our Pullman campus. Our goal is to work together and provide feedback on the circumstances and policies students encounter across campus that impact their success at our institution.”



Marcela Pattinson, WSU Office of Access, Equity and Achievement, 509-335-7326,

Steve Nakata, director of communications, WSU Student Affairs and Enrollment, 509-335-1774,