By Emma Smoll
Most Willamette students take it for granted that they are offered healthcare through the University. Many students may be unaware that a large portion of the student body isn’t afforded this same privilege under the Oregon health care policy.
Students under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy are currently given the least amount of health care possible, if it’s offered to them at all. ASWU Senator Kylah Clay ‘20 wants to change that.
“My biggest goal is to get free or partially free healthcare for DACA students by next year,” said Clay.
Clay has been working with DACA students and other ASWU senators since her election in the hopes that the University will eventually be able to provide healthcare to all students –– not just those who were born in the United States.
Clay recognizes that not all DACA students need support from an external healthcare system, but many DACA students have asked for healthcare in the past and a lack of attention to the problem has been detrimental to the DACA student body.
The system of healthcare for DACA students is severely lacking under current policy.
“In the state of Oregon, someone under DACA is not eligible for most forms of health care. So often times, they really can’t get health care until they’re practically on their deathbed,” Clay said.
Clay hopes to provide preventative healthcare and mental healthcare to all students. Since the beginning of the year, she has been conducting meetings and gathering support to investigate the financial feasibility of the project. After meeting with Don Thomson from Bishop, they found that the estimated cost of assisting in healthcare would be between $75,000 to $100,000. The next step for Clay is to speak with members of the Willamette Annual Fund to find ways to support the project.
Clay’s goals are part of a widespread Willamette movement to make campus a more supportive and safe environment under the new presidential administration.
“We want students who are scared to know that we’re finding a way to support them despite whatever happens politically,” said Clay.
In addition to providing financial support for DACA students, Clay also wants to create a liaison position for DACA students to provide other DACA students with information about scholarships and opportunities. She also wants to find ways to provide legal assistance and advice not only to the students, but their families who might be affected as well.