Many students aren’t aware of a campaign that aims to increase funding for the University of California system, said some UC student leaders.
Student volunteers for the UC Student Association’s Fund the UC campaign have increased their lobbying activities after the UC Regents increased tuition and fees by 2.7 percent, or $282, at a board meeting in January in San Francisco.
Fund the UC seeks to reform California’s Proposition 13 to obtain new funding sources for the UC and avert tuition hikes. The campaign organizes events and sponsors lobbying efforts at UC campuses.
“Students are aware of how they’re being affected,” said Ralph Washington Jr., president of the UCSA. “Tuition hikes produce consequences that they have to deal with.”
However, Annie Guilyard, a third-year political science student and a student advocate for the campaign, said she doesn’t think the campaign is doing enough to educate students about the tuition hikes.
“One out of four students knows what our campaign is,” she said. “It’s not really their first priority to look into the issue.”
Rafi Sands, UCLA undergraduate student government external vice president, said he thinks most students do not fully understand the politics behind tuition increases.
For example, he said many students posted frustrated social media posts directed at Chancellor Gene Block when they learned about the tuition increase.
“The chancellor has no power at all over tuition,” Sands said.
Emma Zawacki, a third-year anthropology student and one of the EVP staff members working on the campaign, said she thinks students have a general understanding of UC politics, but said they lack specific knowledge.
“I like to believe that students know that there is a Board of Regents,” she said. “(But) many students didn’t realize the Board of Regents meeting (that raised tuition) was happening.”
She added she thinks students may have a hard time understanding the Fund the UC campaign unless they spend time learning about it.
Many students said they had not heard of the campaign. However, they expressed support for the campaign once they learned more about its goals.
Alex Guardia, a second-year undeclared social sciences student who had not heard about the campaign, said she thinks preventing tuition increases is important.
“If the tuition goes up, a lot of people would reconsider coming here,” she said.
Frank Lopez, a third-year international development studies and political science student, said he did know about the Fund the UC campaign. He said he supports it because he thinks the UC should get more money to hire more faculty.
“We need more money to pay for more professors,” he said. “Classes and waitlists are packed, and students are sitting on the floor for lectures because they’re on the waitlist trying to get in.”
Washington said the UCSA has been encouraging protests and other direct political action to promote awareness of the campaign on UC campuses.
“Political rallies on campus can convince fellow students to support the campaign,” he said.
The external vice president’s office has also been handing out flyers on Bruin Walk to inform students about the campaign.