Subir Dreamer Resource Center reopens to in-person visits

The center is seeking to regain student engagement while returning from the pandemic

Subirs Maya Ramirez and Alexa Gonzalez

Aldo Ramirez

Maya Ramirez, Subir Program Assistant (left), and Alexa Gonzalez, Subir peer mentor, sit at facing desks at the Subir Dreamer Resource Center on Nov. 10. Photo by Aldo Ramirez/City Times Media

Aldo Ramirez, Multimedia Journalist

With the return of students to campus after the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the challenges many departments at San Diego City College are facing is the re-engagement of students. 

The Subir Dreamer Resource Center is a program at City that supports undocumented students in achieving their academic goals by providing scholarship opportunities, immigration advisory, legal counseling, and other student services.

In order to empower this City population, the SDRC hopes to draw students back and regain their engagement now that it offers in-person visits for the first time since the pandemic shutdown in 2020.

“(Starting the week of Nov. 8), we’re going to start opening our doors,” SDRC Director Adan Sanchez said. “All of our staff is going to be there. Our program assistants and our counselors are going to be in person.” 

This is one of the many steps toward reconnecting with students while keeping the provision of virtual programs, services, and resources.

“Before the pandemic students would just hang out in the center, some who identify as undocumented, some as dreamers, some as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals),” Sanchez said. “They liked the vibe of the space.”

Sanchez commented on the pros and cons of attending college in a virtual manner and mentioned that the SDRC is trying to implement the best of each option to create a better academic experience for students.

“Now that we’re starting doing things in-person, we’re trying to offer hybrid options because some students did like having the virtual option,’’ Sanchez said.

Taking into consideration students without the tools to continue a virtual academic program, as far as access to a computer with a camera, access to the internet, and technology savviness, as well as being overwhelmed by spending too much time in front of a screen, the SDRC is looking forward to providing these necessary resources for students who need them.

“We have these workstations that we’re setting up that are going to be socially distanced,” said Maya Ramirez, Subir program assistant. “We’re trying to also keep in mind health regulations, thus comfort that students have with health and safety requirements here.” 

Another challenge the SDRC faces is keeping a record of how many undocumented students are enrolled because of the secrecy these students prefer due to fear of retaliation or consequences their immigration status might generate.

“We don’t want to create any list of students because of the concern that at any given point the government would want to subpoena that information,’’ Sanchez said.

Despite the challenges the department may encounter in delivering those resources, the staff is eager to offer assistance to students throughout their academic journeys and to help them overcome different challenges their immigration status may cause.

“We’re trying to get other departments to also engage in these different languages that also include undocumented people or DACA recipients and that include more information about the California Dream Act along with information about FAFSA,” Ramirez said. “We try to foster an environment of care, support and just kind of a familiar environment. Students can expect comfort and they can also expect us to listen to them.’’

Added Sanchez: “It was a nice feature to have students just hang out there but we lost that so we’re going to have to do a lot of work to regain that vibe of the students being in the space. It’s going to take some time but little by little we’re hoping to do it.’’

The SDRC is now open Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is located in the AH-200 building, also known as “The Cube.”

All visitors must comply with City guidelines regarding vaccinations, face masks and social distancing while in the building or on campus.

Learn about or connect to the SDRC here.