Her commitment to the institution of Pitzer is extensive. Damaris has served as LSU’s (Latinx Student Union) Educational Outreach Coordinator and as an Advancement Ambassador, a member of the Sanctuary Committee, a Office of Study Abroad and International Programs Intern, a forward on the Women's 5C Rugby team, an advocate for other undocumented students to the Board of Trustees and the administration, worked for WA Supreme Court Judge Steven Gonzales, and the list goes on. Additionally, every summer while at Pitzer College, she was a research assistant.
Throughout Damaris' time at Pitzer, however, she has faced severe challenges. She has had to fight the loss of her DACA status, sexual assault on campus, familial deportation removal, and being disowned as a result of coming out as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. As a result, her grades and academic standing suffered. Damaris was denied the opportunity of taking a semester or year off despite the college being aware of her circumstances and her deteriorating mental health. Taking time off, they warned, would result in the revocation of her scholarship. Damaris agreed to comply with their requirements but due to extenuating circumstances, she lost her scholarship in the summer of 2018 and was asked to leave campus immediately, rendering her effectively homeless. The college was aware of the fact that Damaris would be homeless, and the only support they provided her was a list of homeless shelters nearby, without even checking which ones take in undocumented people, four days after she was forced to leave.
As a result of many meetings, Damaris was able to reach an agreement with Pitzer College after a donor agreed to cover the costs of Fall 2018 with the condition that she pass her classes that semester. Damaris met the requirements, finishing the semester strong with good grades. However, due to a technicality (a course credit deficit) that was not made clear prior to/in the agreement, she was denied her scholarship 8 weeks into this 2019 Spring semester, with no ability to take out loans because of her undocumented status.
The infuriating aspect of the situation is that Pitzer College has one full ride scholarship for an undocumented student per year. ONE. Last year, Pitzer did not admit any undocumented student, which means that the scholarship money that is currently budgeted for an undocumented student was not dispersed. Though Damaris’ scholarship is also budgeted for and she meets the requirements the college promised, Pitzer unfoundedly cites the money as the issue. If her scholarship revocation stands, Pitzer would be pocketing the tuition of 2 students (about $90,000) while setting precedent that the promise of a full ride scholarship is subject to revocation at anytime and for any reason. Without this scholarship, Damaris will be one semester short of graduating, despite the fact that she is attending class and fulfilling the requirements daily. To deny her the ability to finish her undergraduate education would be unjust and against the values of Pitzer.
We are reaching out to you, the 7C community, to ask that you stand in solidarity with Damaris and the larger undocumented/DACAmented community at Pitzer and the Claremont Colleges and sign the petition to reinstate Damaris’ scholarship. Encourage your administrators to contact the Pitzer College President, Melvin Oliver, at PitzerPresident@pitzer.edu and (909) 621-8198 to inquire about Damaris’ situation in order to apply external pressure to hold the administration accountable to its undocumented students. There is an email template at the end of this form that you can copy and paste.
We also ask that you spread this petition to friends, students, faculty, staff, and administration and donate through the Go-Fund me if you have the means to do so. Please also help circulate the Go-Fund Me and this petition to your networks.