The UCLA Graduate Student Association announced last week it will remain part of the University of California Student Association even though graduate student associations at other campuses voted to leave UCSA last month.
The UC Graduate-Professional Coalition, which consists of graduate student representatives from the 10 UC campuses, voted to leave UCSA because several graduate student leaders said they think UCSA does not focus enough on graduate student needs. However, Parshan Khosravi, vice president of external affairs for UCLA’s GSA, said the association will not be joining UCGPC this academic year and will stay in UCSA.
Khosravi said he thinks UCGPC’s future remains uncertain and said GSA has maintained a strong relationship with UCSA.
UCSA is an advocacy organization representing UC students and works with UC administrators and lawmakers at the state and federal level. Graduate student leaders created UCGPC in July to better advocate for graduate student interests.
GSA President Michael Skiles said he thinks Khosravi acted unilaterally by announcing that GSA will remain part of UCSA and not join UCGPC. He added Khosravi, as the association’s vice president of external affairs, has the authority to make such a decision.
However, the GSA Forum can overturn Khosravi’s decision at its next meeting, Skiles said.
“In 2015, the GSA forum voted not to rejoin UCSA after nearly a decade of not being a member,” he said. “Historically, our forum has been opposed to being involved in UCSA.”
Skiles said he thinks Khosravi wants GSA to stay in UCSA because he is UCSA’s treasurer. He added he thinks UCLA should be represented in the UCGPC.
“I will continue to participate in UCGPC meetings (and) will be representing the UC Council of Student Body Presidents,” he said. “In addition to that, there should be someone else from our GSA at the UCGPC table representing UCLA.”
Khosravi said the GSA external affairs office decided to stay in UCSA because the organization provides connections to the UC Office of the President and supports his office’s legislative and advocacy work. He added he thinks some graduate students wanted to leave UCSA because they did not have enough time to travel for meetings.
“I want some viable policy change that I can advocate for and be a part of (and) I don’t see UCGPC being in any position to do that,” he said. “It was kind of an interesting thing to see that (other graduate students) were … willing to cut the advocacy level and power we have in order to match their own schedules.”
Khosravi said he thinks UCGPC withdrawing from UCSA will hurt graduate students because UCSA has more resources, such as a full-time staff, to advocate for students. He added he thinks UCGPC’s budget is based on assumptions and is not sustainable.
“UC graduates contribute to about 8 percent of UCSA’s budget, and that is if all of them were paying their dues, which is not the case,” he said. “So undergrads from a financial point of view will still have half a million dollar base to run, (while) graduate (students) are going to be screwed with no money left.”
Khosravi said he thinks his decision may be unpopular, but he wants to advocate effectively for graduate students’ interests.
“(Advocacy) is a 24/7 job and that’s where the real change happens, not (at) the end of the year where we go to a meeting and take pictures,” he said. “This is where UCGPC is going toward (and) this is a move backwards.”