Last quarter, ASUCD passed Senate Bill #46, requiring that this year’s budget proposal will have to cut around $50,000 in anticipation of potential future deficits. On top of thinking of ways how to cut $50,000 from the budget, ASUCD also will need to come up with an additional $36,000 if it decides to restore a paid membership with the University of California Student Association (UCSA), as ASUCD president Mariah Watson has stated she will do to attempt to improve student representation at the state level.
UCSA is a coalition of student representatives from across the University of California system that advocates on behalf of all UC students to officials at the State Capital, UC Office of the President and UC Board of Regents. UC Davis has not been a member of UCSA since 2006 and is currently one of only two UC campus not to permanent members of the association, with UC Irvine being the other. However, this January, UCSA granted ASUCD a membership fee waiver that will expire in May, so UC Davis is currently a member of the organization.
Once the waiver period expires, if ASUCD decides to rejoin UCSA, our student government will be on the hook for $36,000 annually to fund its membership. Membership costs go to salaries of career UCSA staff, travel expenses and other logistical costs.
However, ASUCD cannot simply pass a fee initiative to explicitly cover UCSA costs, as designed by the ASUCD executives in 2006. That year, ASUCD senate voted to change the bylaws to state that the association may not pass fee initiatives to join external organizations. Therefore, the money would have to come from current ASUCD fees, likely at the expense of cutting units and/or their funding. There are 26 ASUCD units, including the CoHo, Unitrans and The Aggie.
The Editorial Board hopes that ASUCD rejoining UCSA will not come at the cost of cutting ASUCD units. Advocacy is necessary and important, but $36,000 is a lot of money, especially for an association already looking for funds, to spend just for a seat at the table.
We believe that ASUCD should first seek to serve its units, as we understand the many benefits that students reap from belonging to and working for units. ASUCD facilitates a learning experience for students that cannot be found elsewhere, allowing students to develop experience and skills in a multitude of fields.
UCSA does important work. It allows for UC student governments, who represent students across the cultural and socio-economic gamut at different campuses, to have a voice in UC and state politics. Because we also understand that ASUCD is fairly set on becoming a permanent member of UCSA, we beseech the ASUCD executive team and its advisors to be innovative with next year’s budget. We understand that units are the backbone and lifeline of the association, and we encourage the executive team and senate to find ways to effectively merge units and/or redistribute funds in order to efficiently and responsibly hold together ASUCD units and avoid unit cuts. Additionally, we believe that the UC Davis administration could also help subsidize the UCSA membership fee, validating the administration’s primary role to serve UC Davis students.
While the timing of the decision to rejoin UCSA is far from ideal from a fiscal standpoint, we understand ASUCD’s desire to give UC Davis representation and a voice in UC and state politics. Additionally, we trust Watson and ASUCD to be mindful and resourceful with the budget. Advocacy is important, yes, but not at the expense of student services that ASUCD currently provides. If UC Davis students can gain access to advocacy but also still keep access to the resources and opportunities that ASUCD allows students, the student body and community is better off. We hope that our student government can rise to the challenge.
Designed by Jennifer Wu