This year, the University of California Student Association — a student advocacy network composed of elected and appointed UC students — proposed an extensive slate of lobbying for student needs at the federal and statewide level that includes funding for marginalized communities and student basic needs.
University of California Student Association’s (UCSA) Government Relations Chair and third-year history of public policy and law major Alex Niles reflected on this years’ key initiatives.
Three key budget asks are to serve marginalized and underserved communities, including $4 million for underground scholars programs, $5 million for undocumented students programs and $6 million for former foster youth. If funded, the money would go to resources and resource centers for these communities, Niles said.
According to Niles, other key UCSA initiatives focused on funding for academic outreach and retention for UC students, placing menstrual products in 25% of UC bathrooms, and simplifying and increasing eligibility for students in the Cal Grant program.
Of these initiatives, the only one included in the California state budget May revision was funding for former foster youth, which Niles called “disappointing.”
“We’re very disappointed [because] we interacted with and elevated these priorities for the governor’s office, as had UC administration and people who work with the legislature. Very disappointed to not see those priorities as well,” they said. “But we had a much more productive relationship thus far with the legislature.”
Although the other initiatives have not received direct budget funding, many of the other initiatives gained traction in other ways, garnering support from elected officials or being addressed in bills currently on the state legislative floor.
Currently, state Sen. Monique Limon, who represents Santa Barbara county in the state legislature, is advocating for funding for undocumented UC students, and the Cal Grant proposal has received “strong support” in the legislature, Niles said.
UCSA has also co-sponsored four bills currently in the state legislature, including one that is the bill equivalent to the Cal Grant reform budget proposal.
“We also have AB 524, the Greek Act, which would require campuses to collect and publicize data on instances of sexual violence conducted at Greek Life affiliated events or locations,” Niles said.
Other co-sponsored bills include state constitutional amendment 5, which would require a second student representative on the UC Board of Regents, and SB 886, which would mandate exemptions for and streamline student housing projects.
While Niles reflected on this year’s UCSA work as “unprecedented,” he said he wished more students were aware of their work.
“I think that UCSA is really doing some of the most impactful work in student advocacy,” he said. “It’s getting millions of dollars funded and centrally received for students and getting bills and services passed … It’s kind of the silent voice in the room doing that.”
A version of this article appeared on p. 4 of the May 19, 2022, print edition of the Daily Nexus.
[Correction 05/22/22 11:05 a.m.]: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the bill numbers for two UCSA-sponsored pieces of legislature. This article has been updated to reflect the correct bill numbers: AB 524 and SB 886.