Saturday, October 20, 2007
Other UCSA news
Be sure to check out the UCSA website. See the giant banner on the top? It misstates the name of the organization. This is, by the way, a $10,000 website.
At the time of this post, the top headline is "Students Tell Governor to Sign SB 1." That's the DREAM Act, for those of you who don't memorize California bill names. The failed, vetoed DREAM Act, for those of you who don't follow California bills. So yes, the UCSA website currently boldly advertises the fact that it fails at its goals.
If you'd like to know more about UC Davis's relationship to the UCSA, be sure to check out this report by Brent Laabs, former UCSA Chair and current UCD GSA (the graduate student government at Davis) External Chair. It was prepared before the GSA left the UCSA, and has a great deal of criticism that is applicable to all student governments currently shoving barrels of money UCSA's way. (If you don't want to read the whole thing, just read the "Executive Summary" and the "Discussion." "Fiscal Analysis," "Internal Structure of UCSA," and "Public Image" are pretty interesting, as well.) Some highlights (emphasis mine):
On the obsession with a "unified voice" that Danny Montes demands:
Do ASUCD and UCD GSA have a moral obligation to participate in UCSA?On UCSA fees:
In some sense, yes – we should stand in solidarity with other students. However, when UCSA does such a poor job of representing the students they represent, then we cannot justify remaining in the organization. ASUCD and UCD GSA have tried to fix it for eight years running – how long is too long? Instead, we can better serve all students by developing a new vision here in Davis, implementing it, and achieving goals which truly affect students lives.
UCSA's fee increases seem to echo the rate of fee increases imposed by the Regents on both graduate students and undergrads. For an organization that has stood against fee increases on the grounds that it prevents access to education, this behavior seems questionable. Perhaps it can be argued that these fee increases are an investment in an organization to prevent future fee increases. However, as fee increases continue (with the notable exception of the 2006 election year fee freeze, a "UCSA victory"), it becomes clear that UCSA hasn't been able to stop fee increases.On bubbles:
However, UCSA is in better financial shape than it ever has been, in terms of income. Some schools choose to contribute over the minimum amount of dues to UCSA. Notable among these are UCLA and UCSB, who appear to get more attention and influence as a result of their contributions. Undergraduates at Santa Barbara contribute more than seven dollars per student per year to UCSA – this was passed in a $100 per quarter fee referendum for AS UCSB in 2006. Fee referenda have been the route to stability for UCSA, so its staff will volunteer to help organize a fee referendum for UCSA on your campus. This is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of UCSA's new philosophy; UCSA hasn't been able to stop large fee increases in the UC system, but is more than willing to increase fees to itself.
[D]ebate is not truly welcome at UCSA. Expressing opposing opinions is tantamount to heresy in some circumstances. During officer elections at the end of Congress 2007, one candidate running for an office unopposed was asked to leave the room so the Board could debate. One Board member spoke that the candidate had made one of his delegation uncomfortable, so he couldn't vote for the candidate. He was finally persuaded to divulge the reason the delegate was uncomfortable: the candidate had said that Congress was "too focused on ethnic/cultural and LGBT issues." As someone who agrees with this sentiment, I find it hard to understand why this was so inflammatory that it had to be told to everyone behind the candidate's back.On changing the admission policy:
Additionally, when I spoke with the UC Regents, I stated that changing admission policy was not the best or most ethical way to improve diversity on campuses. I spoke about how eliminating NRT [Non-Resident Tuition], improving K-12 education, and funding student-initiated outreach programs would help solve the underlying problems of maintaining diversity. This was a prime reason that I was removed from office, as it angered many board members, particularly from UCLA. But there had never been a debate in UCSA about why they have the values they do. Certainly, we in ASUCD and UCD GSA support the access, affordability, and quality of UC education, but what we mean by that is the subject of ongoing debate. UCSA never has that debate. Congress amounts to an "indoctrination", according to some of the members of UCD GSA's delegation in 2007.Anyway, I encourage folks to take a look. I especially encourage our own ASUC elected officials to take a look and consider whether the students of Berkeley are really best served by forking $31,029.90 to the UCSA this year (number from the budget), rather than spending it on direct, potentially more effective lobbying, or on student groups (both of which the UC Davis undergrad association did). "That's what we've always done!" is not an excuse, nor is it even accurate.
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