Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 50, No. 2 - 84

Undocumented Student Mattering
Travel Logistics
Participants explained that the barrier caused by travel logistics led to feelings of marginalization.
Concerns included the inability to engage on campus due to work commitments
and the risks associated with their undocumented status. These barriers
impeded experiences that might have provided them with a sense of mattering and interfered
with their ability to connect to identity-based resources, educators, and peers.
Maytate, a Latinx student from the mid-South majoring in social work, reflected on her
inability to become involved in cocurricular activities, such as student organizations:
" The time that they meet . . . did not work out for me . . . where I live [and interfered
with my] work schedule and everything. So definitely not living close to campus or
living on campus affected my ability to participate. " Eddy also noted that his involvement
was limited, and he " really missed a big part of that just commuting to school. "
He reflected that commuting " really does affect a person with DACA or person who's
undocumented with the opportunities that are available. I think it's really important to
have that sense of community and belonging. " Little Johnny noted that the additional
commutes for evening involvement were risky, and he regretted missing out on experiences
such as Latinx nights.
I had friends that lived [on campus], and it was easy for them to go to those events [but] for
me, without a driver's license and living [off campus], it had to be somewhat planned of
a trip to be able to make it down there [which is a] risk of should I go or should I not, is this
absolutely necessary that I go to campus today?
As commuter students, they also had to consider the consequences of traveling without
documentation, which could result in detention or deportation for themselves and
their family members.
Participants noted that not having to overcome travel challenges would allow for
increased campus engagement, which they recognized as being significant in creating
a sense of mattering. Eddy noted that connecting with a campus Dream Resource
Center would provide " that sense of community there and knowing that I wasn't alone
and knowing that there were other students like me who felt the same way, who had
stories of their own to share about what was going on. " Although travel logistics made
it difficult for participants to fully engage on campus, they appreciated the importance
of connections outside their homes. Eddy and Samantha explained that campus programs
could connect them with college educators who served as resources. Samantha
noted that her connection occurred in class and offered important support: " I got a
mentor because no one in my family has pursued an education. " Her mentor was the
head of the multicultural center, an important identity-based space that participants
felt they lacked access to because of travel challenges.
Participants also noted the significance of campus engagement for building peer
connections. Maytate suggested having " a peer program for university students that
are DACA, from maybe graduating seniors or [those who] have already been through
. . . to learn about the process and then just help the students out. " Samantha noted
the benefits of a peer mentoring program involving students in the same major so that
Volume 50, No. 2 * 2024 81

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