UCSB Lobby Corps Fights for Food Security and Summer Financial Aid

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Madison Kirkpatrick
Campus Beat Reporter

A subgroup of Associated Students, UCSB’s Lobby Corps, is a political student group on campus that seeks to unite activism, professionalism, and planning for student needs. The group fights for student rights, such as lowering tuition and making the community safer.

On May 22, the organization had their biggest event of the quarter: Basic Needs Lobby Day. During Basic Needs Lobby Day, a group of Lobby Corps members traveled to Sacramento to advocate for resources to alleviate food insecurity and usage of the summer Cal Grant which will provide aid to students who are attending classes in the summer.

According to their website, the goal of the organization is to “influence legislators and decision-makers in order to craft public policy that reflects our diverse student community’s views and needs.” This organization is based mostly on student involvement, and allows students who are interested in politics to get experience.

Kristina Ruvalcaba, a fourth-year history major and labor studies minor and the labor director of Lobby Corps, became inspired to join Lobby Corps as a result of her work at the United Student Labor Action Coalition and her interest in workers’ rights.

“Mainly, my work in fighting for the rights of workers inspired me to take on a more significant role in supporting state and national legislation to assist workers,” said Ruvalcaba in an interview with The Bottom Line.

On Apr. 7-9, the organization went on a trip to Washington, D.C. that provided them the opportunity to lobby and fight for students’ rights. This organization figures out what issues need to be lobbied at the state level, but does not get in contact with congressman or congresswoman because they work at the federal level. “There are lots of steps that go into it,” according to Co-Chair Tom Steel, a fourth-year philosophy major, in an interview with The Bottom Line.

“The Washington, D.C. trip was an incredible experience. This trip provided students the opportunity to fight for legislation that will impact the rights of students across the country,” said Ruvalcaba.

The organization has also recently made three trips to Sacramento and partaken in local lobbying efforts in the Santa Barbara County, all in an effort to fight for student and worker rights. One of their trips to Sacramento was for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Their next trip is to an event in Sacramento for Basic Needs Lobby Day where they will advocate for a summer Cal Grant, which will give students financial aid for two summer terms.

According to Steel, Basic Needs Lobby Day in Sacramento was a collaboration with the UCSB Global Food Initiative. The two have worked together to advocate for food in/security. “UCSB students set the agenda for what we lobby on. We got together for three weeks to debate the four bills we will lobby at the event. We wanted to know what would be most impactful,” Steel said.  

SB 461 is one of the bills centered on the needs of UCSB students, specifically on the idea that summer Cal Grant needs to be used for students. This bill will allow students to use the grant for two summer terms.

Steel is proud of the organization’s impact with this bill and three others. “Unlike other organizations, we have the stories about why these bills matter. We have had a tremendous impact,” said Steel.

“When we advocate for these bills, the measurement of success is whether or not the bill passes or your office votes in line with your position. However, we want to give credit to all of the steps that go into lobbying. We do a good job of communicating the student perspective as to why these bills need to move forward,” said Steel.

As far as food insecurity, about 50 percent of students experience it during their time at UCSB, which is alarming especially for UCSB. Steel says that the organization is proud of their ability to advocate for this.

The organization also does a lot of work with Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA). One of the projects they are currently working on is the creation of the first Sexual Assault Awareness Month Lobby Day, which is meant to promote policies that will help and protect survivors of sexual assault in the college setting.

“Lobby Corps [is an] an organization that is always working towards bettering the lives of students. We are an organization that genuinely believes students have the power to create change,” said Ruvalcaba when talking about the mission of the organization in further detail.

Members of the organization are proud of their success in lobbying and the support they have received. Lobby Corps students are working to advocate change, and according to Steel, “anybody can participate in this as long as they are interested in making change at the state level,” said Steel.

“UCSB Lobby Corps is a thriving organization as it has helped inspire organizations on campus to join our lobbying efforts while gaining support for legislation and funding on a local, state, and national scale,” said Ruvalcaba, echoing Steel’s sentiments.

If you are interested in joining UCSB’s Lobby Corps and fighting for students’ rights, you can contact them at lobbycorps@ucsb.edu.

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Madison Kirkpatrick is a third-year transfer from Morgan Hill, CA. She is majoring in communication with a minor in professional writing. Her interests include photography, writing, and watching reality TV.

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