The July meeting went over future UC Secretary of State visits and relations with the UC Regents

The University of California Student Association (UCSA) discussed various issues concerning UC students Saturday and Sunday in a board meeting at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.

UCSA is a UC-wide student advocacy organization governed by student officers, a student board made up from External Vice Presidents (EVP) from each UC campus’ undergraduate and graduate student governments and staff members. UCSA meets monthly and in its July meeting discussed Secretary of State visits, student health insurance, the upcoming UCSA Congress and relations with UC Board of Regents and UC Office of the President (UCOP).

UCSA Undergraduate Organizing Director for Southern California Paty Arroyos said UCSA will help facilitate visits to each UC campus from California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

“He’s very interested in making his rounds at each UC in the fall, pertaining specifically to voter registration and civic engagement,” Arroyos said. “If you all are hosting voter-type events on campus, or usually Welcome Week is a good type of week with all kinds of events happening, we can coordinate some sort of visit with the Secretary of State on your campus.”

In a report on the upcoming UCSA Congress, UCSA Communications Director Anaïs LaVoie said registration is lower than past years, likely due to a change in protocol that allows for one vote per campus rather than one vote per delegate, as in previous years.

“We are at 324 attendees, which is a little less, but we sort of anticipated that with the change in voting,” LaVoie said. “It’s less incentive to bring a lot of people.”

Former UCSA board member Louise Cabansay  gave an update on the University of California Student Health Insurance Plan (UCSHIP) and said it will be requesting personal information from students who have previously declined to report this to UC due to a federal mandate that insurance providers attempt to report policyholder information directly to the IRS.

“I think the most prevalent thing is the IRS mandate for reporting information about students who have health insurance so that the IRS knows you have health insurance so that you won‘t be penalized on your taxes,” Cabansay said. “What that includes is the reporting of information about students such as their social security numbers, date of birth, etcetera, to the IRS.”

According to Cabansay, UCSHIP will also require students to submit vaccination records due to the recently passed California Vaccine Bill (SB 277).

“With the new vaccination law that we have in California, the UC is also going to have to enforce vaccination policy, making sure you submit your vaccination records before getting insurance from the University,” Cabansay said.

According to UCSA Board Chair, acting UCSA President and UC Berkeley student Kevin Sabo, UCSA’s July 7 meeting with UC President Janet Napolitano gave the board the opportunity to discuss pressing issues and introduce its proposed Student Advocacy, Governance and Engagement (S.A.G.E.) UC-wide fee, for which Napolitano voiced support.

“We chatted about student mental health, getting clarification and more information,” Sabo said. “We also gave her the initial presentation on S.A.G.E. She responded very well to, so she has expressed interest in working with us on that and moving it forward.”

Sabo said the meeting with Napolitano was productive and she “responded very well” to UCSA’s suggestions and concerns.

“All in all, it was a great meeting,” Sabo said. “We chatted about increasing the number of times we meet with her, and she told us we should talk to her chief of staff.”

UCSB External Vice President of Statewide Affairs and fourth-year black studies and sociology double major Mohsin Mirza also said UCSA’s consultation with UCOP has been “far too minimal,” but he is hopeful communication will increase.

“These meetings help students pressure the UC into making changes that we need to see, whether it be in regards to the expansion of mental health services or in greater transparency for fee increases,” Mirza said. “It‘s looking like the number of meetings we will have with President Napolitano will increase this year. Now it‘s up to us to use these meetings to advocate effectively and to raise the issues we need”

The board then discussed its positions on the pending confirmations of UC Board of Regents appointees John Perez, Eloy Oakley and Gareth Elliott.

Sabo said he thought UCSA should support the confirmation of Perez, former speaker of the California State Assembly, because he shares many of its views on “Regent reform” and increased student participation and proposed a vote to repeal the most recent tuition increase.

“We have a natural ally in him,” Sabo said. “I, as acting UCSA president, could not more strongly recommend his confirmation.”
Sabo said Oakley, the current superintendent and president of Long Beach City College, sponsored Assemblymember Das Williams’ Assembly Bill 955, which created two tiers of community college tuition by de-subsidizing high-demand classes often needed to fulfill transfer requirements.

“So basically, if you have more money needed to get the Disney Fast Track Pass to get to your class, then you would be able to do that, but for those of you who don’t, you would be stuck in line,” Sabo said. “He championed that.”

Sabo said despite his concerns, he did not want to “actively” oppose Oakley’s confirmation.

“I don’t know that I want to fight the battle of opposing him,” Sabo said. “Chances are he will get confirmed and I don’t want an enemy on the Regents for the next 12 years, but I don’t know that I’m excited about the idea of giving a positive recommendation.”
UCSA Government Relations Director Sean Connelly said the board asked the three Regents pending confirmation to meet with board members, and only Perez has done so.

“We did invite all three of these individuals to sit down with the executive committee and discuss their priorities and goals for the year,” Connelly said. “Mr. Perez did take that invitation pretty much immediately and met with several students at the UCSA office. The other two have not responded to those requests.”

The board unanimously recommended confirmation of Perez, took no position on the confirmation of Oakley and recommended confirmation of Elliott with a vote of 6 to 3.

UC Student Regent and fifth-year economics major at UC Los Angeles Avi Oved presented his Student Regent Shared Governance Proposal, which would establish a student advisor position to aid the student regent and hold a voting seat on the Board of Regents. The advisor would be from a different educational level from that of the student regent, for example an undergraduate student regent would require a graduate or professional student advisor, and vice versa.

Oved said the Proposal aims to bring a different perspective into the student representation on the Board of Regents.
“As you all know, we all face very unique issues in our own communities and our own educational programs, as we deserve an opportunity and platform to address those issues effectively,” Oved said.

“The point of the position is to increase not only the diversity of the board but diversity of experience.”
The board then discussed S.A.G.E., which would be a three to six dollar UC-wide fee to support UCSA.

Sabo said students would have the option to opt out of the S.A.G.E. fee, because it would support lobbying efforts with which students may not agree and state law requires fees being used for political action be voluntary.

“It actually brings the decision making capacity to the student and gives the student the right to determine whether or not they want to support UCSA,” Sabo said.

According to Sabo, S.A.G.E. would allow more students to participate in statewide student advocacy and lobbying efforts.

“There are lots of good opportunities with S.A.G.E. that we’ve already discussed in terms of getting more students to the capitol who don’t have the privilege of being an EVP or have access to an office budget, [and] getting students into shared governance, student observer programs, student representatives,” Sabo said.

The board discussed a resolution to reinstate UCSA’s membership in the United States Student Association (USSA) based on its evaluation of USSA’s performance and its willingness to pay USSA dues.

Sabo said he was concerned USSA should have staff to advise students, lacks “institutional memory” in its turnover process and has failed to show concern for UC issues.

According to Sabo, USSA’s West Coast National Field Associate represents many campuses including all UCs, while other field associates represent as little as three, and he said he feels USSA should have more concentrated regional representation.

“We have to share with Washington and Oregon and all the little islands in the Pacific that the U.S. occupies, so we felt that since we have so many members and we have such a large state they should reallocate resources to be able to have that,” Sabo said.
Mirza said he supports UCSA’s membership in USSA because student organizations depend on each other.

“When you have a national organization for a long time depending on UC schools for funding, to be uncertain about that funding coming can have unintended consequences in terms of the ability for advocacy to pay out,” Mirza said. “Even if USSA is an organization in transition, we still benefit, and other schools on the East Coast and Midwest benefit from our presence being there. I think it’s worth it for us to be there.”

The board voted to postpone a vote on the resolution until its September meeting.

A version of this story appeared on page 3 of Thursday, July 30, 2015’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.