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Sunday, April 14, 2024

ASUCD Senate passes Organizations Without Legitimacy (OWL) Act to increase support for unregistered student organizations

The OWL Act will provide necessary resources to unregistered student groups such as funding, sponsorships and tailored support for the club registration process


By MADISON PETERS — campus@theaggie.org


On Thursday, Dec. 7 2023, the Associated Students of UC Davis (ASUCD) Senate passed the Organizations Without Legitimacy (OWL) Act aimed at increasing support for unregistered student organizations.

Former Senator and primary author of the bill, Gaius Ilupeju, wrote the bill after witnessing pre-existing inequities between established student organizations and newly developed student groups.

“Student organizations on the UC Davis campus currently face tremendous barriers to receiving support or recognition from the university,” Ilupeju said. “They have to navigate the club registration process that can be challenging for new student groups and if student groups are formed before or after the club registration deadline, they face difficulty reserving space and securing funds for event programming.”

The bill was endorsed by both unregistered and registered student groups, such as Cow 4 Mascot, Faces of African Muslims (FAM) and the Bengali Student Association (BSA). 

Third-year economics major and president of BSA, Asif Ahmed, spoke on the club’s decision to endorse the bill.

“There are other ethnic clubs on campus such as the Nepali student organization [who] don’t get official funding from the school,” Ahmed said. “For the rest of the year they couldn’t do anything because of funding, and when we saw the bill, we [knew] running a club without any funding is hard and we [wanted] to help out.”

According to Ilupeju, the OWL act will give unregistered student organizations access to funding opportunities, administrative and legal support from the Senate, room reservations on the third floor of the MU, administrative guidance from the university and help with the club registration process as a whole.

Currently, these resources are limited to registered student organizations and are provided by the co-sponsorship policy that the Senate employs through the Affiliated Student Organization Program. The OWL act amends this policy to extend these benefits to unregistered student organizations as well.

Ilupeju explained the current guidelines of the co-sponsorship policy.

“I don’t think many people know this, but if a student organization wanted a major artist on campus, a comedian or a speaker they can reach out to ASUCD, especially one of the programming units like Entertainment Council or KDVS, and they can enter a co-sponsorship through that unit,” Ilupeju said. “[The club] gives [the Senate] a plan of what they are trying to do, and how it supports the community and we co-sponsor that event either by helping with funding or marketing.”

According to Ilupeju, not having these sponsorships can severely hinder unregistered student groups from having access to necessary resources such as a space for the club to meet.

“If you are an unregistered student group it’s nearly impossible to get a room reserved, because you aren’t even in the system and you have to jump through hurdles to do that,” Ilupeju said.

The difficulty of the club registration process and funding issues, according to Ahmed, is an obstacle that even registered clubs face.

“I’m grateful that the previous boards managed to make [BSA] a registered student organization, so we have a lot more support than other groups,” Ahmed said. “[But] because we are small, we can’t do a lot of fundraising and we have to go through a lot more negotiation with the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) and the retention centers to get funding. I get the struggles [of the process], but not to the extent of non-registered clubs.”

As of now, the bill has a sunset clause in which unregistered student groups will receive support for one whole registration cycle, which lasts about a year.

“Right now the plan is to help student groups from the time that they want to form until the next possible time they can become registered,” Ilupeju said. “After that, if they feel like they still don’t have adequate support or they aren’t able to go through that process successfully, then a possible renewal can be reviewed.”

A rolling application is set to be released early this winter quarter and will be open to all unregistered student organizations.

“Multiple individuals who want to start a group and who need help getting registered, need funding [or] need space, are the only qualifications,” Ilupeju said.

As for the future of the bill, Ilupeju said that they are emphasizing flexibility since amendments might need to be made for unique cases.

Ahmed spoke on the significance of having a registered community, and said that unregistered student groups should have the same opportunities.

“I’m an international student, so when I came here for the first time from Bangladesh, I didn’t have a community [and] I didn’t know anyone here,” Ahmed said. “One of the things that I was looking for on the websites is a Bengali community and BSA showed up on CSI’s website. I reached out to them, I went to their events and I found my community there. I think it’s very important for every student to feel at home wherever they are even if they are from here. People feel safe when they are around [similar] people.”

Written by: Madison Peters — campus@theaggie.org



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