Friday, October 19, 2007
UC Davis Graduate Students Withdraw from UCSA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 19, 2007
This month, the UC Davis Graduate Student Association (UCD GSA) voted to withdraw from the University of California Student Association (UCSA), the coalition of most student governments in the UC system.
"While this may come as a shock to the UCSA, our withdrawal from the coalition is result of longstanding issues with UCSA's staff, board members, and organizational structure," said Brent Laabs, External Chair of UCD GSA. "By representing our constituents independently of UCSA, we can present a more professional image and better work for the needs of all graduate students. Our primary focus for the future will be on legislative campaigns at the state level, where UCSA has committed insufficient resources."
The undergraduate association at UC Davis, ASUCD, withdrew from UCSA in 2006, making Davis the only UC campus with no representatives on UCSA's Board of Directors.
More information is contained within the official withdrawal letter to the UCSA Board of Directors, attached to this email. Additional information and research about UC Davis' relationship with UCSA is available upon request.
Dear UCSA Board of Directors:
On Wednesday, October 3, 2007, the UC Davis Graduate Student Association voted 38-3-3 to withdraw from the University of California Student Association. We feel it is important to explain to the UCSA Board to explain our reasons for dissociation. While we recognize that the decisions made across the UC system affect all students, we of UCD GSA feel that we can better represent our students and contribute to the benefit of all UC student associations by pursuing avenues outside of UCSA.
UCD GSA feels that the most pressing issues facing UC students require legislative action in addition to action with the UC Regents and UC Office of the President: textbook affordability, nonresident tuition, affordable health care (especially for dependents), and the ever increasing student fees problem. These worsening problems on our campuses reflect the lack of support for the University of California in the state legislature. California Treasurer Bill Lockyer has recently stated that UC should be financially independent from the state, so it is imperative that we clarify exactly why UC is an important asset to Californians. Students are among the most economically vulnerable groups, and students must depend on society to invest in education for the well-being of all. In order to effectively represent all students, we need a more continuous and effective presence in Sacramento. As student government, we need to educate the legislature about the issues that affect us and to communicate our vision, which we believe UCSA has not effectively provided for the past 13 years. The emphasis on the politics of protest in UCSA has been counterproductive, and a more balanced approach to lobbying will be of vital importance to UC students in the coming years.
While UCD GSA would have preferred to have worked in solidarity with UCSA on this, it has become apparent that the UCSA organization is too rigid to change. Those who express opinions contrary to the assumed values of the organization, both from Davis and from other campuses, are subject to retaliation. Rather than providing a chance to develop a shared vision, those who go to UCSA Congress are instead inducted into the UCSA vision. UCD GSA sent a letter to UCSA objecting to the UCSA budget; we sincerely hoped that the letter would spur discussion on the direction of UCSA. Instead, we heard no response. Thus becalmed on a sea of silence, the GSA Assembly voted to set a new course of self-representation in order to better represent our constituents.
We hope that UCSA will work out issues that separate graduate and undergraduate interests – at the very least, we hope that voting at the Plenary session of Congress is reformed so that graduate students approve their own action agenda without undergraduate influence. We also hope that UCSA will begin to shift staff and resources towards research and direct communication with those in power, and away from direct action organizing, which should occur at the campus level instead of the statewide level. However, we look forward to partnering with UCSA on consensus issues such as reducing the cost of student fees.
In the coming year, UCD GSA plans to build a lobby corps, modeled from the ASUCD Lobby Corps, that provides students with access to their representatives on a regular basis. We are obliged to use our resources effectively representing graduate student interests; therefore, we are withdrawing from UCSA to directly represent our interests.
UCD GSA External Chair
UCD GSA Chair
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