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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Student advocacy groups to collaborate

(Correction appended)
                                                                                                                                                                                           Despite a rocky history between ASUCD and the University of California Student Association (UCSA), the two groups are increasing communication in light of the current budget crisis.

UCSA is a coalition of students that provides the official student stance on issues facing the university. UC Davis is the only campus that is not part of UCSA – ASUCD withdrew membership in 2006 and instead relies on Lobby Corps for its advocacy efforts.

Matt Haney, executive director of UCSA, said he wants UC Davis to be part of UCSA’s statewide fight against cuts to higher education.

“In the short term, we can’t afford to not have Davis,” he said. “Without Davis, there’s a lack of wholeness.”

Whenever policies change, the UC Board of Regents solicit opinions from UCSA, and the board takes those words as the opinion of all UC students. There’s a fundamental problem without UC Davis’s presence, Haney said.

“UC Davis student leaders that I have met with share the same goals that UCSA has … in that sense, there’s no discord, conflict or difference in what we’re working on, what other campuses are working on and what Davis is working on.”

With the exception of UC San Francisco, every other UC campus maintains a Lobby Corps in addition to membership with UCSA. ASUCD Controller Don Ho said he couldn’t say whether or not ASUCD can afford to do both.

Membership with UCSA costs $1.50 annually per student plus an additional $1.30 per student for full voting rights. This means ASUCD would have to pay approximately $37,000 if all undergraduate students wanted to be members of UCSA – nearly $70,000 for membership plus voting rights. Meanwhile, Lobby Corps’ operating budget this year is $28,577.

Ho has not drafted next year’s budget yet, but he suspects that paying for UCSA would involve cutting from other units.

Ho also mentioned a constitutional amendment that prohibits passing referendums that would increase student fees for membership to an external organization, such as UCSA. Haney said that he doesn’t think UCSA counts as an external organization, though.

With UC Davis being the closest campus to the capital, Haney said UCSA suffers from not being able to have UC Davis student leaders advocating for UCSA on a regular basis. Lobby Corps Chair Aaron Giampietro said that Lobby Corps does advocate for all students, not just those at UC Davis. However, Lobby Corps also takes advantage of its autonomy.

“We do have the ability to make our own agenda, which we also think reflects the entire UC,” Giampietro said.

Lobby Corps is currently working on its own lobby month and student letter writing campaign. UCSA was involved in budget conversations at the capital in support of Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax extensions, targeting 10 republicans in particular that UCSA felt it could sway. This week, individual campuses are engaging in weeks of action, Haney said.

If budget talks resume in Sacramento, UCSA will send individuals to lobby on behalf of students. Haney further elaborated that if this were to be the case, collaborating with UC Davis student leaders and Lobby Corps would be important.

JANELLE BITKER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

Correction: The article incorrectly states that membership with UCSA costs $1.50 annually per student plus an additional $1.30 per student for voting rights — $37,000 for membership and $70,000 for membership plus full voting rights. Actually, UCSA expects a contribution of $1.50 annually per student but the minimum total for membership plus voting rights is $1.30 per student. This means ASUCD would pay either an expected $37,000 or a minimum of approximately $32,050 for membership and voting rights. The Aggie regrets this error.

1 COMMENT

  1. “Ho also mentioned a constitutional amendment that prohibits passing referendums that would increase student fees for membership to an external organization, such as UCSA. Haney said that he doesn’t think UCSA counts as an external organization, though.”

    Haney needs to do a little research because the constitutional amendment was passed to by definition exclude UCSA as a group that is not controlled by ASUCD or UC Davis…doesn’t seem like UCSA is a UC Davis unit, so it clearly qualifies. Easy enough to ask the author of that constitutional amendment Eli Yani, because he’s still around and has a seat at the Senate now. UCSA was the reason for the amendment.

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