I recently read several articles about the involvement of students and student government in the statewide election. I want to comment on the efforts of UC students in this election and why it is so vital to have an active role in our electoral process.
It is clear, once again, no one expects students to vote in the special election. But last year, the University of California Students Association (UCSA), in coalition with numerous other student organizations, registered nearly 32,000 students and increased voter turnout by 13 percent. And we’ve got news for California and the governor: UC students will turnout for the special election.
UC students, along with the UCSA, have kicked off their campaign “Stop the Fee Hikes & Save Financial Aid – Go! Vote” to mobilize students to vote and advocate against fee increases and cuts to financial aid.
This year UCSA’s goal is to register 20,000 voters and turnout 50 percent of registered voters to the polls. We have also taken a stance against Propositions 74, 75 and 76, sending a message to the governor that students are aware of the threat to education these propositions pose. Furthermore, we will use the electoral power we build in this election to lobby legislators to stop the UC Regents from increasing fees and cutting financial aid.
Students are being sucker punched left and right by these state officials and administrators that don’t give a shit about us. We need to make them care. We need to be at every regents meeting, rally, press conference, speaking event and social extravaganza; Students need to be there. We need to fight for our seat at the table and make sure that they leave a piece of the pie for our education. Unless we want higher fees, less financial aid, more crowded classrooms and less qualified teachers, we need to get out there and vote.
The power of keeping fees affordable and financial aid accessible lies ultimately in the hands of the legislature and the governor. They have the ability to stop the regents from increasing fees and cutting financial aid. Therefore, students need to consistently show the legislature, the governor and the regents that we vote and that students have the numbers to influence elections.
It’s about time for the regents, the legislature and the governor to listen to the voice of all the students. UCSA is organizing a comprehensive and strategic campaign for students to get more power to change the direction our schools are heading in. It’s time to “Stop the Fee Hikes & Save Financial Aid – Go Vote!
The special election is coming on Nov. 8, and the last day to register to vote is Monday, Oct. 24. If we don’t want our fees to go up and we want to hang on to our financial aid, then we need to vote. Go in front of the UCen any day from 9am-3pm – we’ll be there registering people just like you.
Bill Shiebler is the State Affairs Organizing Director for UCSA.