Imagine for a moment a Muslim girl from Kosovo named Gordana, who just turned 18 years old, graduated from high school in a new nation after coming from a poor, war torn, nation where she viewed most of her family being killed in a genocidal war. Gordana’s parents brought her over to this country to escape the hardship of their nation of birth, and give their daughter better opportunity in America, where everyone plays by the same rules and are treated as equals to one another. They wanted to escape the genocide, inequality, poor education, and constant fear they experienced. They wanted to be free from fear and give Gordana the chance at quality education and quality life. They wanted to give her the opportunity, just one opportunity, to get a quality college education.
Gordana’s cousin also came over to America with their parents to escape the same trials and tribulations, but they came to America illegally. Gordana and her cousin Vojin, do not live far from each other. One lives in Alexandria Virginia and the other lives in College Park Maryland. Gordana and Vojin both went to high school at the same time, but in different states. Gordana’s parents choose to live in Virginia and Gordana had no choice in where she went to live in America, or where she went to school in Virginia. She had no choice in the issue. The same with Vojin. Both of them were able to get a 4 year high school education because it was their right to get a public education. Gordana excelled more at academics than Vojin, and was an eager student. She wanted to better her life and develop those skills to be tools to live a good life in America.
Gordana’s parents did not make much in America, or provide much else but the basics for survival. They put a roof over their daughters head, gave her three meals a day, a warm bed to sleep in, clothes to wear, and the tools she needed for school. They broke their backs in this new nation, as new American citizens, to better the life of their daughter. But now Gordana has finished with high school and seeks higher education and going to college. Her cousin Vojin was accepted into the University of Maryland because the DREAM Act was passed, which allows for illegal immigrants to get a public college education in Maryland at resident fees while being listed as non-residents. Vojin goes to a public college that is ranked as one of the top 20 public colleges in the US.
Vojin has to pay around $4,454.46 a semester at resident tuition fees, while the tax paying residents of Maryland would have to pay the $9,189.50 difference that is occurred by Vojin being recognized non-resident. Gordana, as being labeled as a non-resident, would have to pay $13,643.96 a semester if she went to the University of Maryland. The only problem is that Gordana’s parents do not make much money, and cannot afford the resident tuition fees for the public colleges in Virginia. Nor can they pay the tuition fees at private colleges or other public universities around the US. Gordana’s parents, though, can afford the resident tuition fees at the University of Maryland. She just wants to get the education to better her life, and to be better off than she was when she was living and growing up in Kosovo. She wants to be treated equal like other Americans. Gordana does not feel it is fair that Vojin gets to pay less in tuition fees than Gordana would have to pay, even though both of them are classified as non-residents.
Gordana was taught by her parents to treat all people equally, and to give to those in need. But now Gordana is not being treated equally and not being helped when in a time of need. She also wonders why her cousin has a right to public college education and that same right is denied to Gordana. She left a country from which she was not treated equally in society or in school. Now it is happening to her again when all she wants to do is exercise her right to a public college education. She is being prevented from doing it when the University is already doing it for other people, like her cousin. She worked hard in school, followed the laws, and so did her parents. They followed all the rules, and went through all the legal channels in order to become law abiding citizens of the US.
Gordana has the right to a public college education and the University of Maryland would be denying her the exercise of her right when they make her pay more than other non-residents. Her cousin gets preferential treatment by paying less than she does, even though they are both non-residents and taking the same classes. She notices that the right of a public college education is preferred that some get it more than others, or the rules are being applied differently to the same group of people. It goes against everything that she was told about America and the American Dream. She use to be a Dreamer, she use to dream of the great life she would live in the United States, the way she would be treated just as equally as anyone else, and have the same rights applied to her as others. All she wanted was equality and fairness, she would do the rest and be productive member of the US. But her cousin is still a Dreamer, because he gets to live the Dream while being in the country illegally and not being citizen or have permanent residency because he only has a temporary visa because he is a Dreamer. It could expire at any time and he would have to worry about being deported for breaking the law.
Gordana does not have the worries of her cousin. She is in the country legally and productive member of society, helping out with local charities and goes to the mosque daily. She helps her parents out any way she can, and studying full time and wants to become a doctor and help those out in life who incur troubled times. She wants to give back to the country that was a save harbor for her and her family, and gave her a free public education in high school. Her cousin, though, wants to become a doctor as well but wants to take that education back home. He wants to use the education that tax payers of Maryland payed for and take it out of the US and back to country that he is a citizen of. He will be able to make more money because his skill set is worth a lot back home. The people of that foreign nation would be able to benefit for the education. Gordana just wants to help herself, so she can help out other Americans with her skill set learned at College, and also help her future children.
If a college education is a right, then the moral thing is to allow both residents of Maryland, Vojin, and non-Residents of Maryland, Godana, to both pay the same in tuition fee to attend the University. Give every person, whether the individual person is a Maryland resident or non-Maryland resident, the same shot and have the same rules apply to both individuals equally. The way things are, it does not give every individual person the same shot at a college education that is their right, or have the same rules apply to them, as Gordana found out.
She is being denied the right to public education, which is open to every person, only because she does not live in Maryland. But she had no choice in that, but she finally exercised her choice for the first time to get a college education. She could not help it that her parents choose to live in Virginia, or that she had to attend a Virginia high school, or that her parents payed income tax in Virginia. Because of her parents choices, she is being denied the one source of a public college education, while her cousin’s parents broke the law and yet her cousin gets to get the public college education and cheaper than what Gordana would have to pay. Her cousin is allowed to have a piece of a pie that is everyone’s right, but she is denied a piece of that cake. She is being denied a piece of the American Dream, of being a Dreamer, while her cousin is allowed to have a piece of that Dream and be a Dreamer.
Vote No on Question 4 on November 6th, 2012. It denies people their right to a public education, prevents them from living the American Dream, prevents the same rules being applied to every person, prevents everyone from having an equal shot. Remember Gordana when you vote, and how she was treated when she just Dreamed of living the American Dream. She was just a Dreamer denied accesses to her Dream because of things she could not control and had no choice in.