A group of 30 students met in AS Main to debrief on the recent Million Student March that took place at Storke Tower on Nov. 12. Led by the Attainable, Accessible, Affordable UCSB Coalition, the students discussed the next steps needed to achieve their goals and to better serve the community at the Nov. 23 meeting.
“This is one of the biggest [marches] that I’ve seen,” fourth year sociology and Black studies double major Mohsin Mirza said, “The biggest one that any of us on campus have seen, and the biggest one that people have seen in a long time. I’m really proud and happy of everyone that came.”
The meeting started with quick introductions followed by a debriefing of the march on both a local and national level.
The group agreed that the first step of the movement, which was to get people talking about the Million Student March, has been accomplished. The march was picked up by many news outlets across the nation including USA Today, Vice News, Newsweek, Time and the Washington Post.
“Part of the goal of this is to get a lot of people to pay attention and to talk about free tuitions,” second year mathematics major Kyle Butts said. ”I think as far as step one, we accomplished that goal.”
A lot was learned from the Million Student March.
“I think just in general more follow up is necessary,” fourth year global studies major Brandon Yadegari said. “I think the march lit a match not only on our campus and in our community, but also across the nation. I think just nationally and locally there could have been better coordination … whether it’s about following up in its naming or how the march intends to go forward as a movement.”
Two major concerns on the national level were speaking about the demands without addressing the means to achieving them and co-opting the name Million Student March, which derived from the Million Man and Million Woman Marches.
The meeting also introduced different propositions that could help provide the necessary funding to actualize these demands.
One idea that was brought up was the Robin Hood Tax, first coined in 1988, that seeks to tax .5 percent on all Wall Street transactions. The result would bring in billions of dollars in revenue that could be used towards supporting hospitals, public works and education.
“Taxing them would create enough revenue to pay for this twice over,” Butts said.
Another source of funding could come from reforming California Proposition 13, also known as People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation. Before this Proposition was passed in 1978, the average property tax rate was three percent of market value with no limit on annual increases. Property taxes fluctuated depending on the assessed value.
Proposition 13 assessed homes based off of their market value in 1976 and froze the property tax rates calculated from this value. Tax increases were also capped at two percent each year as long as the property was under the same owner. Once the property was sold, the property tax would adjust to be one percent of the sale price. The same annual limit would apply to this new value.
“What’s most unfair about [Proposition 13] is the fact that corporations that have had properties before the 1970s are paying old property tax rates,” second year political science and Asian American studies double major Akshaya Natarajan said. “If we make just corporations pay current property tax levels, it would mean nine billion dollars into the general fund.”
The meeting then switched topics to the future goals and steps of the Coalition.
“I think whatever it is that we decide to do, we have to be ambitious,” second year psychology major Hannah Houska said. “I think that what we are demanding is very ambitious and I don’t think that we’re going to get these things if we keep it local because locally we can’t get those things … We have to strive bigger and think bigger if we’re going to get those things.”
On a statewide level, many members of the University of California Student Association (UCSA) hope to see another march in the future. At meetings, board members have discussed possibly having another march — only this time, a march to the capital.
“So many movements have been across the country,” second year political science major José Magaña said. “It shouldn’t be too hard to march from [southern California] all the way to the capital. We planned a walking route to going north to the capital. The UCs would join us and we would grow bigger up to the capital. We have a lot of UC support.”
As for smaller steps along the way, the Coalition proposed having more meetings to discuss the future and plan for it in greater detail.
The Attainable, Accessible, Affordable UCSB Coalition also hopes to gain the support of other campus organizations and collaborate with them to bring about progress.
“You know what I’m excited about? The fact that it wasn’t a way to ‘piss off steam,’” Butts said. “Looking around this room right now, it’s an organized movement, not an organized action. I’m looking forward to seeing how that progresses.”