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Davis, California

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

ASUCD continues to reject UCSA membership

The University of California Student Association (UCSA) is engaging in a renewed effort to mend its tumultuous relationship with ASUCD in light of impending fee increases and this year’s instance of police brutality on campus.

UCSA is a coalition of student organizations providing the “official” undergraduate and graduate stance on university issues. Since ASUCD’s cessation of membership in 2006, UC Davis is the only UC campus not represented in UCSA.

According to ASUCD Senator Justin Goss, senior political science and philosophy double major, one of the primary reasons for the secession and the current frictional relationship is ASUCD’s unwillingness to pay for UCSA’s membership dues.

“There are a number of reasons for leaving UCSA,” Goss said. “Number one, it’s just really expensive.”

In order to become a member, student organizations would have to pay a minimum fee of $1.30 per student. This means that ASUCD would have to charge an additional 3 percent to students and allocate more than $40,000 from their budget to UCSA annually.

Meanwhile, Lobby Corps, the main lobbying arm of ASUCD, received a subsidy of $28,424 from ASUCD for the 2011-2012 academic year.

The majority of the revenue from membership dues goes toward UCSA’s support staff, directors, and field organizers. The money is also used to organize statewide student conferences and protest activities.

A major contention between ASUCD and UCSA is the increase in the minimum contribution from $1.05 to $1.30 between 2004 and 2006.

“Considering the tuition hikes we’ve seen, you would think that [UCSA] would want to alleviate some financial burden from the students,” Goss said. “But these dues have actually been increasing proportionally with tuition.”

Other campuses, such as UC Santa Cruz, contribute significantly more to the organization. Students at Santa Cruz pay over $7 annually to be part of UCSA.

“At other campuses it depends on the governing structure of the students,” said Keith Ellis, UCSA Board Secretary and fifth year political science and management major at UC Merced. “They pay more because they understand that UCSA is a good investment for the students.”

Opponents of ASUCD’s readmission into UCSA also note that the organization’s lack of professionalism renders its advocacy strategy ineffective.

“The stunts and rallies that UCSA undertakes comes off as excessively flashy and ostentatious,” Goss said. “Legislators just end up rolling their eyes at all of this.”

Sergio Cano, chair of Internal Affairs Commission, said that in the past, ASUCD’s needs weren’t met because of the decisions made by the UCSA Board of Directors.

“I think we should work with UCSA on issues, but I don’t think it’s beneficial for us to rejoin. It leaves us with more discretion on issues we would like to focus,” Cano said.

Since Lobby Corps became the sole advocacy organization of UC Davis, they have focused on a different set of tactics to take advantage of the campus’ proximity to Sacramento.

“We target small offices and try to get those swing votes that are really important in the passing of a bill,” said Grace Miller, Lobby Corps director of publicity and senior environmental science and management major.

By refusing UCSA membership, UC Davis foregoes several privileges besides lobbying that are afforded to other campuses.

“Lobbying is only one piece of what UCSA does,” Ellis said. “What Davis is missing out on is having a role in selecting the student Regent and having the ability to appoint members to UC-wide committees.”

After the incidents of police brutality at Berkeley and Davis, UCSA has been struggling to find ways to promote the UC Davis student interests despite friction with ASUCD.

“Davis needs to be in the fold so we know how to support them. For example, we weren’t sure whether a vote of no confidence for the chancellor was for their best interest.” Ellis said. “It’s really awkward to talk about the campus when they’re not at the table.”

Goss points to a more streamlined bureaucracy and a reduction of membership dues as the first steps in reconciling the schism between ASUCD and UCSA. Currently, however, many student representatives remain steadfast in their opposition against reviving UCSA membership.

The UC Davis Law Student Association at King Hall was recently granted membership into UCSA. They remain the only UC Davis student organization represented in UCSA, but this development may signify a trend towards re-integration.

“The LSA joined up, and that was really a positive sign because we weren’t really expecting it,” Ellis said. “It may be that we’re making a lot of headway with Davis now.”

JUSTIN ABRAHAM can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


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