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UCI Rejoins UCSA on Conditional Basis

The ASUCI Office of the Executive Vice President (EVP) has decided to rejoin the University of California Students Association (UCSA) after withdrawing its membership last February.

Reasons for leaving UCSA included the body’s failure to oppose UC President Janet Napolitano’s appointment despite undocumented students’ concerns over mass deportations levied during her tenure as U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.

Additional grievances include  insufficient support for students of color highlighted by the organization’s refusal to allocate needed funds to UCSA’s Students of Color Conference, dismissal of UC workers’ outreach attempts for halting tuition hikes in 2012 and the overrepresentation of graduate students within the association.

In an attempt to salvage ties with UC Irvine, UCSA has implemented more rigorous mandatory cultural competency training for its board members, and has sent several officials to address ASUCI’s concerns in person and on campus.

In response, ASUCI’s EVP Office — which oversees UC Irvine’s relations with UCSA — has moved to rejoin the association for the 2015-2016 academic year on a conditional basis.

UC Irvine does not have to pay the $28,800 membership fee for the upcoming year, and UC Irvine is under no obligation to continue its membership if it deems UCSA has not adequately addressed the aforementioned concerns.

Because no student fees are being reallocated, a vote from ASUCI’s Legislative Council is not required to reinstate membership.

“ASUCI is definitely going into UCSA this year being both cognizant of why we have dropped, and also being optimistic of what role UC Irvine can play within the organization,” said Executive Vice President Kristine Jermakian on her office’s decision to rejoin UCSA.

A particular issue that will largely impact UCI’s future membership with UCSA is Senate Bill 376 (SB376), which would guarantee that workers employed by private university contractors receive the same pay and benefits as university employees doing similar work.

According to Jermakian, there are concerns about the impact of SB376 on tuition costs, and UCSA’s board has thus far maintained a neutral stance on the bill in spite of UC Irvine’s protests.

“UC workers have been a huge contribution to our experience on this campus. One of the reasons why we were able to go into that tuition freeze in 2012 was because UC workers — and specifically AFSCME 3299 — were standing behind students. They’ve been a great source of solidarity, and we would hope that UCSA continues to realize that when there are issues happening within the UC worker community, that students do need to take a stance on this,” said Jermakian.

Another concern within the EVP is UCSA’s new proposed funding model, SAGE. SAGE will fund UCSA via a statewide student fee tacked on to all other fees currently paid by students.

Jermakian encourages students to ask questions and educate themselves as much as possible regarding how their fees are used, and how they can take action if their needs are not being addressed.

According to Jermakian, UCSA’s choices in the coming year will likely have a long lasting impact on UCI’s future within the organization.

ASUCI Legislative Council meetings are held in Woods Cove B/C on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5 pm and are open to the public.

 Correction to Print Issue, 10/13/15: The Office of the Executive Vice President (EVP) made the decision to rejoin UCSA, not the ASUCI Legislative Council.  (Credit: Staff Writer Ryan Toves)