Common Application now more accessible for undocumented students—just kidding

dreamactivitistsEd. note: This post is by Feministing’s social media intern, Dahlia Grossman-Heinze. You can follow her on Instagram @grossmad and on tumblr.

At this year’s National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education, Daniel Vargas, The Common Application’s Communications Director made an amazing announcement. Starting with this year’s Common Application, a universal college application accepted at more than 400 American colleges and universities, “Undocumented American” would be added as an option to select in the demographics portion of the application, and “Undocumented Status” would be added to The Common Application Inc.’s non-discrimination clause, which legally binds all the member institutions who accept the application.

The only problem? Vargas does not work for The Common Application—he’s an undocumented activist named David Ramirez who staged the performance to call attention to barriers undocumented students face in education. When Colorlines attempted to verify the story with Common Application Director of Outreach Scott Anderson, he stated that “The Common Application has not made any announcement regarding undocumented students.” Anderson also confirmed that “there is no one named Daniel Vargas on our staff or Board of Directors.”

In Ramirez’s fake press release he included pretty serious quotes attributed to the Executive Director of The Common Application, Rob Killion, which read, “The Common Application, Inc. annually revises our Common App, but never have our changes had such an impact in creating opportunity for an entire community,” and  “Private colleges inaccurately have been labeling undocumented students as international students which guarantees a separate and unequal admissions process. Until now, this discrimination has been permitted and facilitated by The Common Application, Inc.” 

While The Common Application has denied any connection to Ramirez, along with the accuracy of his claims, now it’s up to them to deal with the fallout—Ramirez’s hoax statement was met with applause and support. Like the fake PINK loves CONSENT campaign last year, now the pressure is on The Common Application—will they disavow the points made by Ramirez and make themselves seem like they are okay with perpetuating discrimination and inequity of access, or will they embrace the opportunity and move toward making The Common Application and its member institutions more accessible for undocumented students? The ball’s in their court.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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