100 years of representation, advocacy

  • COURTESY / UC DAVIS SCHOOL OF VETERINARY MEDICINE

ASUCD celebrates its centennial

This year, UC Davis celebrates the 100 years of service and student representation that the Associated Students of UC Davis (ASUCD) has provided since its start in 1915.

“We create student governments to better serve students and to make sure there are people who are willing to do the work to solve the problems on campus,” said Mariah Watson, ASUCD president and fourth-year international relations and philosophy double major.

According to Watson, ASUCD is the “perfect” example of students who came together to inspire a campus and provide for a growing community. This inspiration kindled the beginnings of what evolved into the hard-at-work association it is today.

“[ASUCD] came out of a necessity to be represented, and now a hundred years later we are the largest student employer,” Watson said. “ASUCD [is] always here to serve students – in a number of different ways.”

ASUCD’s ever-growing catalog of services, events and units, such as the Pantry, Aggie Reuse and Picnic Day, kept the government afloat throughout a long and intricate history of shifting politics and changing sides.

“There was a time period of immense growth,” Watson said. “That was when we ventured into the student services side with how we can be more effective, how we can do more for our students, [and] how creative we can be.”

These units have served as such extensive contributions to the student experience, that facilities such as the Women’s Resource Center and the Cross Cultural Center are now viewed more as commonplace rather than previously hard-sought after services.

With the past 100 years’ legacy in mind, executive officials of the association, such as Watson, plan for continued growth in ASUCD’s future.

“That’s what makes this hundredth year especially interesting,” said Watson. “We’ve been riding off of the glory [of these services], and now we all have to put the work back in and invest in our student association. These next hundred years we’re going back to basics, back to student advocacy.”

ASUCD vice president and fourth-year political science and history double major, Gareth Smythe, agreed with Watson’s view that ASUCD still has a long road of improvements ahead.

“We’re not shutting down on our hundredth birthday. We’re making improvements and we are making sure that as we are building new things, that those old doors that have served students this long remain open,” Smythe said. “We are attempting to show how robust our services and representation are.”

While feeling the same pride for the UC Davis campus as the rest of his ASUCD student colleagues, Smythe said that reflecting on the past [100 years] is one way to help ASUCD grow.

“Student politics change, but [what] has lasted is our services,” Smythe said. “These concepts have lasted past all of us, past the politics, past the fees. That would be what we should reflect on in our hundredth year.”

Not only does this centennial allow for reflection on ASUCD’s steady growth, but it also offers students the opportunity to find out more about what ASUCD’s future has in store, and in turn what ASUCD has in store for UC Davis students’ futures.

“The direction that we’re going in is a positive direction, and it clarifies [this] by showing us now, a hundred years later, what our mission can be and still is,” Smythe said. “It [has] allowed us to look at the future and ask what the next hundred years [will] look like.”

Though the executive branch plays an important role in representing the student body, Smythe said that it is important to remember those who have served as the backbone of ASUCD for the past 100 years as well.

“[The backbone is] the unit directors, it’s the people driving the busses, it’s the people pouring your mocha – those are the people that do the hard work,” Smythe said.

In this hundredth year, fourth-year human development major and unit director of the ASUCD’s Pantry Erika Hapa expects many students to lend a helping hand in the coming years to services such as the Pantry.

“I’m surprised that we’ve come this far; I think it’s great that the Pantry and other units are a part of ASUCD and [that we are] bringing all those students together as one large community,” Hapa said. “The fact that [my last year at Davis] is the hundredth year feels kind of epic, that I’m part of what ASUCD has to offer.”

Hapa said that her staff’s teamwork is what has helped her unit expand over the past years.

“It’s my job to push the next generation to be very successful as well, I found my home at the pantry and I’m sure so many others have found their home at a unit of ASUCD [as well],” Hapa said. “I think of [the association] as a way to connect the students with each other as well as our campus.”

UC Davis alumna and current ASUCD business manager Janice Corbett credits the work gone into these last hundred years to the students of the campus and of the association.

“I think that given that we’re one hundred years old, there’s nimbleness and flexibility that comes with that,” Corbett said. “ASUCD is always trying to serve its population, and what that looks like might look different than fifty years ago and fifty years from now.”

Celebrations for the centennial will also involve working with ASUCD alumni.

“We’re going to start the ASUCD Legacy Endowment for educational and leadership development and our goal is $100,000 for a hundred years – so we’ll see!” Watson said.

In addition to the ASUCD’s Night Out event that was held on Tuesday, there will be activities put on by the ASUCD throughout the year as constant reminders to students of how far the campus has come.

Opportunities to get involved in ASUCD will be presented to the students as a way to serve the campus and the community – and make an impact on the association’s next 100 years.

“People who want to run for senate: run for senate! You just need a passion for student life and be willing to put in the work,” Watson said. “This is [the] time for us to [see] what the next hundred years will look like.”

Photos by Jay Gelvezon.