Every year, the University of California Student Association formulates an agenda outlining their goals for the following year. This year, the agenda focuses on increasing student voter turnout, restoring financial aid and halting the rise of student fees.
UCSA is a student organization that represents over 200,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional school students throughout all the UC campuses.
‘UCSA is a systemwide studentrun coalition whose mission is to empower students to advocate on their own behalf for the accessibility, affordability and quality of the UC system for current and future UC students,’ said UCSA field organizer Amanda Martin.
Two of the three items on this year’s agenda were also featured on last year’s, when the agenda included campaigns to promote student voting, stop the increase of student fees and increase admission opportunity for graduating high school students.
Last year’s ‘Get Out the Vote’ program aimed to register 25,000 students to vote systemwide and increase student voter turnout by 5 percent.
The ‘Prioritization of Education’ campaign intended to secure a $50 million allocation for outreach, a 33 percent return-to-aid fee structure, no increase in student fees and protection of enrollment growth funding.
‘Admission and Eligibility Reform’ was aimed at providing better opportunities for graduating high school students to attend UC schools.
‘UCSA worked to revise the Master Plan guideline for a 12.5 percent UC eligibility rate as well as the universities’ formula to calculate high school student’s eligibility in order to further equal access and opportunity to attend the UC schools,’ Martin said. ‘UCSA advocated an expansion to 15 percent [and] sought to expand the Eligibility in the Local Context program [participation] from 4 percent to 8 percent.’
UCSA achieved some of its goals last year, but it needs improvement in ‘Admission and Eligibility Reform.’
‘Last year, UCSA surpassed its goal and helped register 32,000 students and increased turnout by 8 percent in our demographics,’ Martin said. ‘UCSA advocated for the addition of a review process to determine the effects of the GPA increase, and exposed inequities in A-G course access to California high schools to the state legislature.’
The final campaign consisted of continuing efforts to prevent further fee increases and to secure funding for enrollment growth. Members lobbied the legislators at the capital and in their districts.
This year, UCSA continues to pursue similar programs. ‘Student Vote: Push for Power’ is aimed at increasing the amount of students registered to vote and encouraging those who are already registered to vote at the polls.
‘UCSA plans to register 20,000 UC students, have three campuses with early election polling stations and 50 percent registered student voter turnout,’ Martin said.
Second on the action agenda is ‘Freeze Fees Now!,’ a campaign to put an end to UC fee increases.
‘Last year, the universities struck a dirty deal with the governor, increasing UC fees by over 20 percent in the past two years. This year, students will fight for a free freeze and make their voice heard at the November Regents meeting where the Regents will vote on the 2006-2007 budget,’ Martin said.
The last goal on this year’s UCSA’s action agenda is to restore financial aid.
‘The Regents voted to cut university grants by 24 percent,’ Martin said. ‘UCSA is fighting to restore full funding for universitybased financial aid in the 2006-2007 UC budget.’
Associated Students of UCI President Carlos Feliciano is in full support of UCSA’s 2005-2006 agenda.
‘I strongly support this year’s agenda items and feel the issues are very relevant to all students here at UCI,’ Feliciano said. ‘I encourage students to contact me and the ASUCI executive vice president with any concerns or issues they would like us to work on.’