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Davis, California

Sunday, September 26, 2021

UC Davis advocacy efforts underway, aimed at state government

In the wake of student fee increases and the UC’s budgetary shortfalls, students and university officials have been working throughout December on advocacy efforts targeting Sacramento.

The UC Davis administration is preparing its message in anticipation of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget release and with attention to the budget passed by the UC regents in November.

“Right now our primary messaging is surrounding the regents’ budget approved in November,” said Jason Murphy, UC Davis director of state government relations and advocacy. “The regents requested $913 million be provided to the university to fully fund our needs. Those are dollars that will help support student enrollment and student services and class sizes for offerings.”

According to Murphy, officials are considering a variety of plans that would bring students to the capital under various campus institutions, such as ASUCD. The university may also create seminars with student services on campus to teach students about advocacy.

“We want to recognize not all students want to get involved with the administration for whatever reason,” Murphy said. “We’re trying to provide them some tools they can use to lobby on their own.”

While Murphy is optimistic about his lobbying effort, he acknowledges that given the rough budget year, the state legislature may decide to maintain the cuts to education.

“I think students will be well-received and legislature will be willing to listen and be very understanding of the student’s stories and requests,” Murphy said. “But we’ll be seeing how they’ll react to their ability to do something about it.”

He expects plans to crystallize once the details of state government’s budget are revealed. Schwarzenegger is scheduled to present his budget to the California legislature by Jan. 10.

Students have also taken advocacy into their own hands. Alicia Edelman, a senior art history and technocultural studies major, has created Bike for a Future, a bicycle ride to rally at the capitol.

“I love biking with people, and I was kind of surprised that we, at UC Davis, are the UC closest to Sacramento, and we haven’t taken advantage of our proximity to the capitol,” Edelman said. “I thought adding a bike twist to the event would make this a very distinctively Davis thing to do.”

Edelman and the event’s participants will bike to Sacramento and deliver letters of students’ friends and family to legislators. She said the event is not intended to deflect blame from UC administrators but to appeal student concerns to the California government.

“Our goal is to restructure the university system because we feel at this point it’s not really working toward what we as students, graduate students and faculty really need,” Edelman said.

Likewise, ASUCD Controller Eli Yani hopes to coordinate both students and administrative goals through official channels. He wants to combine staff, students and faculty to form a lobbying coalition.

Yani believes such a group will be able to effectively lobby the legislature for secure funding for the university. He did not provide further details but expects developments as the state budgetary processes moves forward.

The UC Office of the President has also engaged its own advocacy planning, coordinating the efforts of several campuses. The UC is considering changing the venue of UC Day, an annual gathering of students, alumni and legislators, from its traditional dinners to a march on the capitol.

The date of the event will be set to maximize the effect of the rally and is expected to take place in March.

LESLIE TSAN can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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