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California State Legislature introduces bill based on UCLA student’s resolution

Pictured is Alette Laughton, a third-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics transfer student. Before attending UCLA, Laughton wrote a resolution that is now being considered as a bill in the California State Legislature. (Renee Rubanowitz/Daily Bruin)

By Vivian Stein

Feb. 21, 2024 9:08 p.m.

A resolution written by Alette Laughton, a third-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics transfer student, was introduced as a bill in the California State Legislature.

If passed, Assembly Bill 1818, which was introduced by Assemblymember Corey Jackson on Jan. 11, would require the California State University and California Community Colleges systems – and would also request the UC – to allow students to park overnight in campus lots if a student uses their vehicle as housing and has a valid parking permit.

This legislation could alleviate some challenges that housing insecure students face by allowing students to spend nights in their cars, said Toby Hur, a field education faculty of social welfare at the Luskin School of Public Affairs.

“As an interim measure, creating a safe parking space and piloting that – I tend to agree with that,” Hur said. “Let’s try that out. See if it works out for the students, see what that teaches us.”

Laughton wrote the resolution from the end of 2022 to the beginning of last year. Laughton said she was inspired to write the resolution while serving as the director of student services for the Associated Students of Moorpark College, which is the school from which she transferred, and she added that she was also on the college’s diversity, equity and inclusion committees.

Laughton said these programs helped her realize the changes she wanted to make to help students on college campuses.

Before being submitted to the state assembly, Laughton’s bill was written as a resolution for the Student Senate for California Community Colleges, which is an organization officially recognized by the California Board of Governors as the representative of around two million California community college students, said Cassandra Flandre-Nguyen, who is the president of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges.

Laughton and other community college students spoke during the Student Senate for California Community Colleges’ general assembly in April, and her resolution regarding safe overnight parking was passed.

While the Student Senate for California Community Colleges Legislative Affairs Committee voted to co-sponsor AB 1818, its board of directors has not taken an official stance yet and plans to work with Jackson’s office before considering sponsorship of AB 1818, Laughton said.

Laughton said her safe parking program would serve as a middle step between having students completely unhoused and having them become fully housed.

“I often hear a counterargument that, ‘Well, we don’t want students to sleep in their cars. We want students to sleep in beds.’ And I 100% agree with that,” Laughton said. “I really want students to be sleeping under a roof, in a bed that’s not their car, but it’s not actionable to make one leap from the bottom of a staircase to the top. You need to take steps in between it.”

Laughton added that Jackson was an instrumental part of the process, as he added CSU and UC campuses into the bill.

“It’s a moral question on ensuring that everyone who at all counts is doing all they can to be on a path to thrive – to ensure that this is not another roadblock that the state is creating,” Jackson said.

Laughton said the bill allows students to have a safe parking area with access to campus facilities such as water fountains, restaurants, restrooms and Wi-Fi. Flandre-Nguyen said it would set a precedent for providing basic needs to students.

“This bill, if it were to be passed, would 1,000% make the other legislators realize the importance of creating bills set for causes that may seem almost redundant, but it’s incredibly important to the academic success of our students,” Flandre-Nguyen said.

Laughton also said the resolution aims to give students the opportunity to focus on their studies as opposed to where they will be sleeping, adding that one in five California community college students, one in 10 CSU students and one in 20 UC students experience homelessness.

“This is a big thing that’s going to hopefully, if passed, create an actual, long-lasting change to fight student homelessness,” Laughton said.

Laughton also mentioned the importance of student involvement in this cause. She said students can reach out to local assemblymembers, write letters, fill out forms and complete surveys to support the bill.

She added that the more students who back the bill, the less likely it will be shelved because of inactivity, which is what happened to a similar bill in 2019.

“It’s going to take student advocacy to really get us over the finish line,” Jackson said.

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