ASUC Senate calls for a new California Master Plan for Higher Education

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For the first time in 53 years, multiple UC campus student governments have come together to express their support for the creation of a new California Master Plan for Higher Education.

The ASUC Senate unanimously passed a bill at its Wednesday meeting that calls for the establishment of a committee to investigate the current state of California’s higher education system. The bill was co-authored by the president and an external vice president of the Associated Students of UC Santa Barbara, as well as CalSERVE Senator Caitlin Quinn.

The committee, which would consist of students, faculty, administration, California residents, government officials and representatives from public K-12 education systems, would develop a survey to collect relevant information to be used in drafting a new master plan.

ASUCSB spearheaded the movement last November when it passed a bill that called for a new master plan intended to make higher education more affordable and accessible to students.

“Right now we don’t have a strategic plan on how to address all the problems in the system,” said Jonathan Abboud, ASUCSB president. “We’re hoping it will kind of build a movement, and it’s taken on a life of its own at this point.”

Student governments at UC San Diego and UC Davis, as well as the graduate student government at UC Santa Cruz and the UC Student Association, have passed similar resolutions, arguing that the current plan, which was signed into law in 1960, is outdated.

According to Associated Students of UC Davis Vice President Bradley Bottoms, UC Davis students view this issue as a priority.

“This is just going back to the idea that higher education isn’t a privilege, it’s a right, and how we can allow that access for more students on this campus and across California,” Bottoms said.

The bill passed at UC Davis also calls for the establishment of a search committee to create a report of the changes California needs to implement to improve its higher education system. In addition, the legislation urges UC President Janet Napolitano to prioritize the issue.

But UC spokesperson Brooke Converse says the university does not have the power to carry out the action items attached to the bill because the university does not own the Master Plan.

“There’s so many people that were involved in the creation of the Master Plan, and all of the people would have to be involved again to make the change,” Converse said.

Still, Student Action Senator Pavan Upadhyayula, a sponsor of the bill, urged at the external affairs committee meeting Monday that it was necessary.

“We need to put pressure on the administration to figure out at least what is feasible,” Upadhyayula said. “It’s not acceptable to respond by saying, ‘It’s not economically feasible.’ The question is how can we make it feasible.”

Jane Nho is the lead student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @JaneNho.