University of California Student Association (UCSA) will hold their annual Student Lobby Conference this weekend from Saturday, April 18 to Monday, April 20 at the Holiday Inn in Sacramento for students to directly engage with elected officials on issues regarding the state of California’s public higher education.
The conference is hosted by the ASUC Office of the External Affairs Vice President and will include workshops and keynote speakers. According to the event’s Facebook page, there are 134 people planning to attend the conference, and UCSA will be financing students who wish to attend.
UCSA President Jefferson Kuoch-Seng said the theme of the conference will be “Reclaim the future, Rebuild education,” and students will be able to learn more about educational issues they face as well as interact with students from across the UC on professional and personal levels.
“The main focus is to bring students to the state capitol to develop their lobbying abilities, learn about issues affecting students and directly engage with elected officials on those issues,” Kuoch-Seng said. “[I’m excited] to learn about people personally. We’re a lot stronger when we have built trust within one another and can work together and engage with each other professionally and personally.”
Kuoch-Seng said one of the key issues the conference aims to highlight is the state’s reduced investments in the UC system.
“The main focus is to draw attention to the need for UC reinvestment and the benefit the UC has on the state, nation and the world,” Kuoch-Seng said. “Students need to be aware of the power they have through the conferences that are hosted by any of our systems. To be empowered by what you learn and to be able to execute it in the real world is definitely a skill that is learned at these conferences.”
Graduate Student Association Vice President of External Affairs Yanira Pinedan said UC students need to be proactive in protesting against potential tuition increases and need to be united when forming protest messages.
“With a potential tuition increase come Fall 2015 and with President Napolitano and Governor Brown negotiating what the future funding of the UC will be, we as students need to send a clear and- united message to state legislators and Governor Brown that we care about our education,” Pineda said.
According to Pineda, this weekend’s conference will educate students on how to lobby effectively and on what current pending legislation is facing the legislature.
“The Student Lobby Conference allows students to learn lobbying skills that they can take with them wherever they go, and also get a crash course on pending legislation that directly affects them, as well as learning about the state-budget process,” Pineda said. “I hope that after this weekend the students … continue to be engaged in lobbying work that takes places on UCSB on a regular basis.”
Pineda said legislation directly impacting Isla Vista, as well as UCSA bills on higher education, will be discussed at the conference.
“While each UC delegation will get to lobby on bills that affect all students, each campus can also address legislation or issues that directly affect their campus,” Pineda said. “This is particularly the case for both the undergrad and graduate UCSB delegations because we have legislation that will have a direct impact on our Isla Vista community.”
Among pieces of legislation to be brought up at the meeting include Assemblymember Das William’s Isla Vista self-governance bill AB 3, according to Pineda.
The UCSA Board is currently tracking over 71 bills that deal with higher education and UCSA campaigns, Pineda said. Some of the bills currently on the table of interest to students include SCA-1, calling for return of UC control to the state legislature, and AB 3, which establishes a Community Services District for the unincorporated area of I.V.
A version of this article appeared on the page 5 of Thursday, April 16, 2015’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.