The Associated Students (A.S.) Senate unanimously voted at Wednesday’s meeting to support the “$48 Fix,” a plan to make higher education free for California college students.
The resolution acts as a directive for the office of the A.S. president and external vice president of statewide affairs (EVPSA) to support the $48 Fix through campus and statewide events this year.
The $48 Fix is an extension of the Master Plan for Higher Education adopted by the state of California in 1960 that committed to free higher education for Californians. According to the $48 Fix report, tuition could be free for university and college students in California with the implementation of a statewide income surtax of $48 per year for the median California taxpayer.
While the Senate’s approval of the resolution is primarily symbolic, it will prompt action from the executive branches of A.S. to hold campus-based campaigns, UC Student Association and U.S. Student Association meetings, as well as lobby visits with state representatives to gain support for the plan throughout the state.
“I would like to see people direct their energy and anger to their local legislators,” Woodrow Davidson, EVPSA deputy chief of staff and one of the resolution’s student sponsors, said. “That’s where people need to begin ramping up the pressure. In the end, it has to pass through the state.”
The resolution was the first item on the agenda at the senate’s first meeting of the year and was authored by senators Dhishal Jayasinghe and Andrea Reyes.
“Tuition [that is] free is not a ridiculous idea,” Reyes told the Nexus on Tuesday. “It’s something that is possible in our state.”
Reyes is a transfer student and said the cost of a public university was the primary reason she chose to attend a community college before coming to UC Santa Barbara. She said, however, that she believes even the cost of community college can be a financial burden for many students.
Spencer Brandt, one of the resolution’s student sponsors, said in a changing world and economy, the state must invest in higher education and not only fund K-12 education.
“It’s important to have [senate’s] support to continue the movement for free college in California and gather momentum at the grassroots level,” Brandt said.
Davidson told the Nexus on Tuesday he planned to attend a community college after high school because of its affordability, but his father encouraged him to attend UC Santa Barbara.
He reminded the senate at the meeting that a UC, California State University and community college education was originally free. He said he believes the current political climate of instability presents students with an opportunity to make important changes at the higher levels of government.
“This is the moment that we seize on,” Davidson said. “This is the moment that we can truly make a better future for not just ourselves but for the people who will be coming here years down the road.”
Anjalie Tandon contributed reporting.
A version of this article appeared on page one of the October 5, 2017, print edition of the Daily Nexus.