On Wednesday, September 6, 2017, Commissioner of Higher Education David Buhler and the presidents of Utah’s eight public colleges and universities sent the following letter to Utah’s congressional members:
September 6, 2017
Senator Orrin Hatch
Senator Mike Lee
Representative Rob Bishop
Representative Chris Stewart
Representative Mia Love
Dear Senators and Representatives,
At its core, public higher education is about opportunity: the opportunity to better yourself, your family, and your community; to grow your mind; and to navigate and discover the world. Utah’s public colleges and universities have been at the forefront of providing access and opportunity for all of Utah’s students, no matter their background or circumstance.
In 2002—ten years before the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was implemented—the Utah Legislature adopted legislation sponsored by then-Representative David Ure and Senator Howard Stephenson allowing all of Utah’s students who attended a Utah high school for three years and graduated to pay in-state tuition at our public colleges and universities. This year, over 1,200 students will qualify for in-state tuition at Utah’s public colleges and universities under these circumstances. Since DACA, these students have been able to work to help pay for college—making their dreams more achievable—and also to contribute to Utah’s workforce after graduation.
Many of these students were so young when they arrived in the United States that they cannot recall living anywhere else. The United States is their home. As articulated in the Utah Compact and the 2002 legislation on in-state tuition, Utah leaders have shown foresight in addressing these difficult issues. It is imperative that we continue to make it possible for all students to be able to realize their dreams.
We urge you to support a legislative solution as soon as possible to enable all students who have grown up in the United States to continue contributing to their communities and classrooms in ways made possible by higher education. Utah college students at our eight institutions known as Dreamers are working hard to better themselves and have deeply enriched their campus communities.
We understand this is a complex issue, and urge you to pursue a lasting, long-term solution. With your help, these students can continue their vital contributions to workplaces, college campuses, and communities in Utah and across the country. We appreciate each of you, as our elected representatives, proactively voicing support for those who came to this country as children and the positive impact they have in our communities.
Thank you for your consideration.
David Buhler, Utah Commissioner of Higher Education
David Pershing, President, University of Utah
Noelle Cockett, President, Utah State University
Charles Wight, President, Weber State University
Scott Wyatt, President, Southern Utah University
Gary Carlston, President, Snow College
Richard Williams, President, Dixie State University
Matthew Holland, President, Utah Valley University
Deneece Huftalin, President, Salt Lake Community College