As of Nov. 30 at press time, the petition has 179 signatures.
Gardner, a sophomore Morehead-Cain Scholar, said she started the petition to spark conversation on the issue.
“We learned about the Morehead-Cain policy, which currently does not accept undocumented students as eligible applicants,” she said. “We would like this policy to be changed.”
Gardner plans to bring the petition to Morehead-Cain leadership today.
The petition has two immediate goals: to have a town hall meeting with Morehead-Cain staff and students about the issue and to have a meeting with the Board of Trustees to discuss undocumented applicants.
Gardner said the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program, a full scholarship in which students dual-enroll at UNC and Duke, does not have a clause preventing undocumented students.
Chuck Lovelace, executive director of the Morehead-Cain Foundation, hasn’t yet been presented with the petition. In October, he told The Daily Tar Heel that federal policies prohibit undocumented students from receiving aid. Since the Morehead-Cain Foundation receives tax exemptions, he said, they feel the need to comply with those standards.
Emilio Vicente is an undocumented UNC alumnus who now works for the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network. Because the Morehead-Cain Foundation is a private organization, he said he thinks the foundation should be able to give undocumented students scholarships.
Cora Went, a 2015 graduate of UNC and Morehead-Cain Scholar, said undocumented students have gone through the same processes as other high school students.
“I think it’s really important that undocumented high school students be treated the same as any other high school students in the United States and be allowed to compete for the scholarship,” Went said. “It really makes no sense for this scholarship to exclude those students.”
Went said she thinks the foundation will at least submit a response to the petition. She said undocumented students already have to pay out-of-state tuition at UNC.
Vicente said he knew several undocumented students who applied for the scholarship but were disqualified because of their immigration status.
“If the Morehead-Cain wants to live up to its mission and what it stands for, it makes 100 percent sense for them to be accessible to undocumented students,” Vicente said.