UC Davis students seeking reform and restructuring of the University of California will bike their message to the steps of the State Capitol this Wednesday.
Participants attending the event, which include a mixture of undergraduates, graduate students and professors, plan to gather on the quad near the Memorial Union at 9 a.m. for a brief breakfast and discussion. Following that, the anticipated caravan of nearly 250 cyclists will commence the 15-mile bike ride to Sacramento.
“We have a very active bike culture [here at Davis], so why not take advantage of it?” said Alicia Edelman, senior art history and technocultural studies major, and primary organizer of the event.
The bike ride was organized primarily over the internet during winter break. Organizers hope that the event will be less of a protest and more of a dialogue with legislators.
“Gathering people together on the internet is a good way to get a message out there but it’s not the best way to get [them] really passionate and involved,” Edelman said.
Bike for a Future, the group organizing the event, consists mostly of students without any experience in political or social activism. Nevertheless, they claim that the issue of education funding is a dual problem, existing within the context of the UC, but also within the broader context of the state.
Alberto Salcedo, senior Chicano studies major and event organizer, admits his inexperience but stresses the importance of student participation.
“We’re not ignorant,” he said. “We don’t think we’re going to single-handedly fix the budget crisis. We’re just letting the legislators know that we are not going away, that our voices will continue to be heard, that we will continue to spread awareness and that we will continue to [apply] pressure [to] them.”
Some legislators have already made higher education one of their platform priorities.
Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) has introduced two bills (SB 330, SB 650) that would facilitate greater transparency and accountability to the leadership of California’s public higher education institutions. Furthermore, AB 656, a bill authored by Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico (D-Fremont), aims to tax oil companies and use the revenue gained to fund the UC, CSU and community colleges throughout the state.
Camille Santistevan, recent graduate of UC Berkeley with a degree in political science and member of Bike for a Future, cited the office of Rep. Torrico as their capitol contact. Santistevan also explained why she believes it is necessary to establish oversight over a system that many believe to be wrought with corruption and inefficiency.
“Paying for school wasn’t a problem for me when I was in school because of aid [I received] from the government,” she said. “However, as education is the great equalizer here in the U.S., for the government to not fund it is a threat to the equality and democracy we pride ourselves on.”
Echoing Santistevan’s sentiment, senior international relations major Brian Sparks said that the goal of Bike for a Future is to regain UC’s standards prior to large fee increases.
“We want to restore what we previously had,” Sparks said. “Quality, access and affordability have been diminished. [Yet] there is still the potential to reestablish them.”
Bike for a Future is holding a fundraiser all day today and tomorrow at Ali Baba’s in which 15 percent of the proceeds from meals go toward supporting the group. They will also be holding a final informational meeting tonight in Wellman 127 at 7.
Firm in her belief, Edelman asserts that despite whether students are ready to participate or not, they should still care.
“We’re lucky to have affordable education … [but] when you take that away and make it too expensive so that only certain people can benefit from it, then it paves the way for a really destructive future,” Edelman said. “When you take away education, you take away everything.”
KYLE SPORLEDER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.