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UCSA recap – Feb. 20

By Rania Soetirto

Feb. 23, 2021 12:08 p.m.

The University of California Student Association is composed of representatives from the UC campuses’ undergraduate and graduate student governments. The organization’s board of directors held its monthly meeting over Zoom on Feb. 20. It discussed the Double the Pell Week of Action and student advocacy.


  • Jamaal Muwwakkil, the UC student regent, and Alexis Zaragoza, the student regent-designate, said the UC will likely not discuss cohort-based tuition, the UC’s partnership with Dignity Health, a non-profit healthcare company, or the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea until the UC Board of Regents meeting in May.

  • UCSA President Aidan Arasasingham said he met with UC President Michael Drake at the External Vice President quarterly meeting in early February to make sure hybrid instruction will be available for students who might not be able to return if UC campuses reopen in the fall.

  • Alia Reynolds, the university affairs committee chair, said the University Affairs committee meeting on Feb. 12 discussed advocating for basic needs, increased financial aid and physical and mental health resources for international students after the death of an international student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who died from irregular sleep patterns because of distance learning.

  • Joshua Lewis, the government relations committee chair, said the board approved a budget stance to pay legislative interns in Sacramento to advance UCSA’s professional advocacy and advancement equity goals. The board also approved mandating schools to make the FAFSA completion resources more available to students.

  • Lewis said the board has scheduled meetings targeting more than 70% of California’s congressional delegations for the Double the Pell Week of Action. Lewis said the board and its out-of-state partner associations have secured more than 45 meetings nationwide with congressional committee members, representatives and senators.

Agenda Items:

  • Prabhdeep Rai, the UCLA chapter chair of the California Public Interest Research Group, said an open textbook grant program will make textbooks free or cheaper for students, allow students to take more classes and give faculty the freedom to create textbooks that complement their courses. UCSA passed a resolution in favor of the grant-funded program for open textbooks to incentivize professors to accommodate accessible and open resources, reduce costs on UC institutions, improve students’ academic performances and alleviate students’ economic burdens.

  • Delaney Ivey, the co-director of the UC Coalition of Reproductive Justice government relations committee, and Kira Pegues, the co-director of the UCCRJ external relations committee, said there should be more priority to protect the bodily autonomy of sexual assault survivors and less law enforcement involvement during sexual assault forensic examinations on UC campuses. The board passed a resolution to support the availability of SAFE collection sites on UC campuses and recognize the urgency of providing access to safe and equitable resources to minimize the negative impacts of sexual assault on students’ livelihoods.

  • Elysha Castillo, the ACQUIRE Campaign vice chair, said the ACQUIRE team and UCSA board members collected data using a six month UC-wide survey to measure the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the well-being of UC students. According to the survey report, 89% of respondents reported that the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted their daily lives. Castillo added that the data was taken before the UC announced the possibility of reopening in fall 2021.

  • Syreeta Nolan, co-chair of the UCSA Disability Ad Hoc Committee, said the committee will rebrand under the name Justice, Awareness and Disability Education. Nolan said the committee plans to create JADE scholars and JADE fellows, which are scholarship funds that will provide $10,000 to two or three disabled undergraduate and graduate students who showed commitment to disability advocacy.

  • David Alcocer, UC associate vice president for budget planning and analysis, and Seija Virtanen, UC associate director for state budget, said the UC intends to prevent an increase of California resident tuitions and fees for the 2021-2022 academic year. Alcocer and Virtanen said the UC plans to revisit a dual admissions pathways plan which guarantees a student’s acceptance as a transfer student into the UC if they were not accepted as a freshman.

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Rania Soetirto
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