In the aftermath of several on-campus protests in response to Donald J. Trump’s presidential election last week, ASUCI gathered on Thursday to discuss how to move forward as a student government and how to address both students’ fears of marginalization and the negative impacts of Trump administration policies.
At the ASUCI meeting, several student senators, interns and executives expressed apprehensions that the Trump administration may cut funding to higher education.
“Federal [student] grants make up quite a bit of the federal budget. If a Republican Congress is looking to meet their budget obligations, they might cut even more federal funding out of education,” said Kimo Gandall, an ASUCI intern.
Trump’s current education platform includes the possibility of cutting the federal government’s involvement in the student loan process altogether. Trump’s policy director, Sam Clovis, said in May that private banks should issue student loans instead of the federal government, and that the Republican Party cites this plan as a cornerstone of their education platform. Further, according to Clovis, under Trump’s presidency, student loans may be issued based on a student’s “future earning potential” based on major and choice of college.
ASUCI Senators also addressed Trump’s plans targeting undocumented students, particularly in California, which is home to a quarter of America’s undocumented population. Approximately 3,000 undocumented students are enrolled in the UC system, and just over 500 attend UCI.
“We hope to work with administration to establish UCI as a sanctuary campus for undocumented students,” said ASUCI President Tracy La. “This would restrict law enforcement like UCIPD from collaborating with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and would regulate their recruitment here.”
UC President Janet Napolitano released a letter last Wednesday reassuring members of the UC community that the university will continue to provide a “diverse and welcoming” environment for all students, including those who are undocumented, during the Trump administration. The letter was signed by all 10 UC Chancellors.
“In light of yesterday’s election results, we know there is understandable consternation and uncertainty among members of the University of California community,” the letter read. “The University of California is proud of being a diverse and welcoming place for students, faculty and staff with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Diversity is central to our mission. We remain absolutely committed to supporting all members of our community and adhering to UC’s Principles Against Intolerance.”
This past May, Napolitano committed $8.4 million to support undocumented UC students through 2019, which also marks the end of Trump’s term as president.
At the ASUCI meeting, La emphasized her focus on ensuring that, going forward, UCI students are supported through any challenges caused by the Trump administration.
“We are reaching out to faculty to discuss how the results of this election can impact student mental health, well-being and how this could ultimately impact [students’] academics,” said La. “We should educate ourselves and others on why people feel the way they do, and why they can’t just move on from these [election] results.”