The University of California Regents will not be busing students to the May 16 meeting in Sacramento. This change comes after the original plan proposed by Board Chair Sherry Lansing to have a UC student, faculty and staff rally to match the one that occurred in March. Complications with planning transportation and coordinating students as well as concern about a potentially low turnout prompted the Regents to forgo the original plan. The Regents are currently planning on busing and housing free of charge Associated Students presidents and current and future external vice-presidents of statewide affairs.
University of California Santa Barbara AS President Harrison Weber, explained the Regents concern over not replicating the grandeur and exposure of the March rally where thousands of college students protested at the capital, resulting in at least 72 indoor protesters being arrested.
“March was the rally they decided was so impressive that to replicate it and fail in replicating it or to do it any lesser extent would weaken the cause, would make us look weak,” said Weber. “To pull off a rally to the scale of what the Regents wanted would have taken months of planning and years of experience.”
Problems with coordinating students and a lack of communication caused severe problems for the proposed rally.
“I think the sentiment was there, but I don’t think it was announced early enough,” said Harrison. “If we shoot for next May or next March to do something collective and really talk about it and really get on the same page, I think that there can be a lot of really good things that happen as a result of it, but I think it needs little more time.”
Ahmed Mostafa, current AS external vice-president of statewide affairs, expressed his disappointment in the decision.
“It’s unfortunate because I personally would rather have it be us bringing all these students to Sacramento and empowering them,” said Mostafa. “Many students live in this misconception that we’re not powerful.”
Mostafa went on to state that the decision does not completely diminish the importance of these meetings.
“I disagree with the decision, but at the same time, it’s something positive,” said Mostafa. “The Regents are finally cooperating with students.”
Nadim Houssain, the newly elected EVPSA for the 2012-2013 school year, will also be going to Sacramento and believes the decision changes the focus of the meeting.
“Ideally, we could bring more students,” said Houssain. “Unfortunately, this is more geared to, they want to bring individuals who really know their stuff and have been working on the issues for a while… The goal is once we go and come back we can share the knowledge.”
Weber stated that the connection between the Regents and the students is, while occasionally strained, important and mutually beneficial.
“Regents should be putting in a significant amount of money,” said Weber. “To really aid in our advocacy efforts because our goals are the same in that we want more money for the UCs.”