It was a busy weekend for the University of California Student Association, which held its monthly Board of Directors meeting Friday, followed by the three-day UCSA Student Lobbying Conference from Saturday through Monday.
The weekend’s agenda included lobbying for legislation regarding the independence of the UC system, financial aid, work study and consent education. At Friday’s UCSA Board of Directors meeting, students opted for UCSA to separate from the United States Students Association, a national student organization, for the 2015-16 school year, which, according to ASUC External Affairs Vice President Caitlin Quinn, will save UCSA at least $8,000 per year.
“This board has not found its USSA membership particularly useful in the current political climate, and wants to focus more on state issues,” Quinn said in an email.
The board also discussed proposed changes to UCSA bylaws that would create more structured identity-centric caucuses, to be voted on in May.
At the conference, UC Berkeley students joined with students from the other UC campuses to lobby state legislators, who Quinn said “can learn a lot from students.”
One of the targets of UCSA’s lobbying efforts was SCA 1. Currently, the UC system is administered by the Board of Regents, which controls the use of it as a public trust. If SCA 1 passes, the current state constitutional measures regarding the Regents would be repealed in January 2017, and the university and the Regents would be “subject to legislative control.”
“The UC is one of two ’public’ entities that are fully autonomous from the legislature, meaning we voters have no say in electing its leadership and the UC has no legal reason to follow many municipal laws or legislation about financial transparency,” Quinn said in an email.
Other bills UCSA lobbied for included AB 200, which would expand Cal Grants; AB 206, which would mandate that the state partially fund work-study costs for undocumented students, who cannot currently participate in federal work-study programs; and SB 695, which advocates for mandatory sexual consent education in high schools.
According to UCSA President Jefferson Kuoch-Seng, UCSA chose not to take a position on AB 1212, which would allow student groups to place restrictions on which students can attain leadership status within a student organization, as well as which students could qualify to be voting members of a club.
UCSA decided several weeks prior to the Student Lobbying Conference not to pursue the bill because they felt that the bill would not survive committee, according to UCSA board chair Kevin Sabo. The bill was rejected by the California Legislature’s Higher Education Committee on Tuesday.
Students also lobbied for increased funds for the UC system, which would help stave off tuition increases.