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Saturday, September 18, 2021

ASUCD rekindles relationship with UCSA

ASUCD recently rejoined the University of California Student Association (UCSA), an organization for UC students and student governments that seeks to provide a collective voice for UC students. In recent months, various students involved in ASUCD on campus have been advocating UC Davis’ involvement in UCSA.

According to Harley Litzelman, director of the ASUCD Office of Advocacy and Student Representation (OASR), UC Davis rejoined UCSA at its last board meeting in UC Santa Cruz on Jan. 10 and 11. The campus membership is currently in a trial period before it will become a long-term member. While UC Davis’ membership is fairly fresh, students involved in ASUCD and other organizations on campus will have more opportunities to advocate for higher education and other relevant matters.

“ASUCD is much better suited to be a fundamental component of UCSA’s greater operation rather than its own independent operation plagued by turnover and limited reach,” Litzelman said.

UCSA primarily focuses on encouraging current and former UC students to advocate for higher education, especially in regard to the accessibility and affordability of the UC system. The organization creates a forum for students to have immediate involvement in financial and educational circumstances for the UC system as well as offers a method for UC campuses to work together to advocate with a common voice.

Litzelman has held a prominent role in pushing for UC Davis’ involvement in UCSA. Litzelman said that he was in favor of the campus rejoining UCSA for the multiple benefits UC Davis students would gain.

“UC Davis students will now be able to contribute to the greater discussion taking place to represent all UC students to all relevant authorities,” Litzelman said.

As director of the ASUCD OASR, Litzelman also emphasized the value in UCSA’s lobbying association that would offer students resources to specifically raise their concerns regarding higher education in the State Capitol.

“UCSA also runs a professional lobbying operation that strategically amplifies the voice of students in the Capitol, a voice to which we may now genuinely contribute,” Litzelman said.

Likewise, Kabir Kapur, a former ASUCD Senator and current UC Davis student, has advocated for the campus to join UCSA as a student representative and active participant in ASUCD affairs.

“The benefits of UCSA include more access to the UC Office of the President and the UC Regents, being able to utilize UCSA’s career staff for research purposes and having a stronger connection to our fellow Associated Students across the UC,” Kapur said. “The main drawback is the cost, which is around $1.30 per student per year, but currently we have been allowed in, free of charge, for a trial period that ends at the end of the 2014-15 academic year,” Kapur said.

Litzelman characterized the cost per student as a worthwhile long-term investment rather than a trivial cost.

“In terms of efficacy of lobbying, UC Davis undergraduates will receive a much higher return-on-investment as dues-paying students in UCSA than paying ASUCD fees to a very limited campus advocacy operation,” Litzelman said.

UC Davis was a part of UCSA approximately 10 years ago. According to students involved in ASUCD, UC Davis dismembered from the organization due to the highly professional nature of Lobby Corps, a student advocacy group on the UC Davis campus, as well as the campus’ proximity to the State Capitol. According to former ASUCD senator and current ASUCD executive candidate Mariah Watson, Lobby Corps was more successful in advocating for UC Davis student interests than was UCSA.

The monetary cost for membership was another factor that prompted UC Davis to dismember from UCSA.

“From my research and conversations with alumni, 10 years ago our Lobby Corps program was more established and professional than that of UC’s,” Watson said. “We were paying them student dollars to do a job that we could do well by ourselves.”

Like Litzelman and Kapur, Watson also emphasized the significant benefits that UC Davis would receive by joining UCSA again.

“They not only meet with Regents individually fairly often but have direct access to them when they need to schedule a meeting urgently,” Watson said. “These types of relationships along with a lot of other connections can help UC Davis Advocacy and Student Representation grow and become stronger in the upcoming years.”

There has also been extensive conversation within ASUCD about converting Litzelman’s position as director of ASUCD Office of Advocacy and Student Representation into the External Vice President. The new position would be an elected position rather than a position that is appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate.

“All other voting members of the UCSA Board of Directors are the equivalent of an External Vice President elected by their student bodies,” Litzelman said.

While UC Davis’ membership is fairly fresh, students involved in ASUCD and other organizations on campus will have more opportunities to advocate for higher education and other relevant matters.

“ASUCD is much better suited to be a fundamental component of UCSA’s greater operation rather than its own independent operation plagued by turnover and limited reach,” Litzelman said.

 

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