President John D. Welty issued the following statement today:

Two recent news reports remind us of California State University, Fresno’s commitment to a university climate of diversity and our obligation to ensure access and opportunity for all to participate in education and university life.

The news reports center on the state Supreme Court decision upholding a law to allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state fees at public colleges and the immigration status of Pedro Ramirez, president of Associated Students, Inc.

The state Supreme Court upheld Assembly Bill 540, a statute that allows students who have attended a California high school for three years to pay in-state tuition. The court ruled that the high school attendance requirement does not involve residency, and therefore does not violate the federal immigration laws. Under AB 540, enacted eight years ago, the CSU charges in-state tuition to undocumented students who meet the requirement.

Pedro Ramirez, who was born in Mexico and brought to the Valley as a child by his parents, is one such student. He filed the appropriate AB 540 paperwork when he applied for admission to Fresno State. ASI requirements do not address immigration status, so Mr. Ramirez was not prohibited from running for ASI office.

After his election, he personally notified me and ASI advisers about his immigration status, and volunteered to serve without pay as president, since his status does not allow him to receive a paycheck.

I commend Mr. Ramirez and other AB 540 students who are following state statute as they seek higher education.

I hope our campus and community will remember that diverse colleges and universities better prepare students for the diverse workplace of the future.