OPEN LETTER TO UC STUDENTS
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA STUDENT ASSOCIATION (UCSA)
In response to the article published Thursday January 21st in the San Francisco Chronicle titled “Regents to back UC Protests at Capitol,” the UCSA would like to clarify our position as we move forward towards March. In light of the budget crisis that the state and UC is facing, students now more than ever are feeling the pain and bearing the burden. In November, student fees were increased by 30% and the Governor has proposed to eliminate Academic Preparation and competitive Cal Grants. Together these proposals threaten the basic values of access and affordability that the University was founded on under the Master Plan.
This crisis has compelled students to take action. UCSA has declared March 2010 a statewide month of action named “March for Higher Education”. Students are organizing actions, lobby visits, and rallies to raise awareness and build student power. Contrary to what was reported, on March 1st, UCSA is kicking off the month with a rally at the State Capitol, and the students will be lobbying their legislators all day. Although there will be different actions taking place throughout the month, such as the action on March 4th, all efforts will be needed to effectively reverse the effects of this budget crisis and we stand in solidarity with our other brothers and sisters fighting to make education a right.
UCSA’s priorities for the month is increasing funding for higher education by a $1 billion to rollback student fees; increasing higher education funding by reducing prison spending through comprehensive prison reform; passing Assembly Bill 656; and protecting and preserving the California Grant Program. This will be our message on March 1st during the kick-off of March for Higher Education.
We believe that to be effective and successful we will need to work with many different groups. We will collaborate with anyone that seeks to re-prioritize higher education in the state of California, which is why we are strategically looking as to how to effectively utilize UC Regent networks and connections to forward the student agenda. We have made it very clear that the student position will not be compromised. We disagree on a number of issues including student fees and executive compensation, both issues we have actively and aggressively advocated against. The Regents have come out in support of securing Cal Grants this next year and we are going to hold them accountable to that.
With limited resources and not being able to easily access state legislators and UC Regents, students have to be strategic and careful in where they put their time and money. We are following the budget cycle to determine where to put our resources. As students, we are fighting a two front war. This is why we targeted the Regents in November because they were deciding to increase student fees mid year and next year, and why we will continue to do so if similar proposals become more apparent. At this point, we are shifting focus and resources and are now targeting the state because they have the power to fund higher education and prevent future fee increases, especially as budget negotiations continue through March and onto May. Let it be known that we maintain that this is a collective responsibility, in which both the Legislature and the UC need to be held accountable for what we find ourselves organizing against.
This is a long and challenging fight, but we have been doing it for years and are not giving up. We are committed towards fighting for access, affordability, quality and diversity at UC. This is a crisis and students are on the front lines. We invite anyone else in the general public to join us in this fight, because it will take all of us to get our state back on track
Saludos y Adelante,
Víctor George Sánchez Jr
University of California Students Association
“No se vive celebrando victorias, sino superando derrotas”
-Ernesto “Che” Guevarra
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