Image Courtesy of UCLA USAC Office of the External Vice President
Do you remember where you were on November 8th?
Although the events of this day at times made me feel alone, I knew that I was not. I felt the confusion that came in waves as the results of the election poured into the viewing room in Carnesale Commons. I felt the rage that steamed from eyes of other UCLA students as they marched through the streets of Westwood. And eventually, I felt the inevitable dust of hopelessness settle in as the crowd dispersed down Janss steps, to their own dorms, to their own rooms, alone.
I was with two friends and between the three of us, we decided to stay out just a bit longer. Most of the time we sat in silence. When we did talk, we talked about how stupid we had been, that even at one of the best universities in the world, with top resources and professors to teach us all there was to know, we had been blindsided.
We talked about the consequences of living in a bubble. We talked about how whatever we were doing wasn’t enough. We talked about how there was probably more that we didn’t know than what we did and that even with our newfound energy to create change, the task in front of us seemed daunting and improbable.
When USAC elections rolled around later in the year, I realized a change in my thinking. Whereas before I had considered school related elections as inconsequential, I now saw them as a way to replace the helplessness I had once felt with control. When Chloe Pan won the election for External Vice President, I looked down the list of openings she was looking to fill within her office.
One of her platforms was to create a Bruin Day of Action, a day in which students could make a difference in the fields they were passionate about by learning the knowledge, skills and actions they could take to make a difference. I applied to take on this position and became one of two Civic Engagement directors.
The vision of this day was inspired by the events that took place on November 8th, but it also came from a sense of wanting to find unity with our fellow Bruins. We asked ourselves, what topic truly made an impact on all of our lives, whatever our current circumstances entailed?
That is when we decided to focus our day of action on the topic of affordability. In early January, state leaders will release the California budget. Originally, the UC system was allocated a 4% increase in funds that would ensure UC tuition would not rise in the 2018-2019 year. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, state leaders are proposing to reduce that increase from 4% to 3%. 1% doesn’t seem like much, but that 1% is equivalent to a 33 million dollar decrease in allocated funds for our higher education systems. As a result, these leaders are proposing a 2.5% increase in tuition in the 2018-2019 year in order to make up for the loss in budget allocation.
Yes, I understand that unforeseen circumstances lead to unforeseen costs, but the question both myself and the rest of the EVP office ask in response is why does the burden always fall on the shoulders of students? In 2002, the estimated in-state tuition for students was $3,734. For the 2016-17 academic year, it was $12,294. The UC system claims its mission to be in the aim of discovering and advancing knowledge. However, I don’t see how this mission can be reached when the accessibility of our educational institutions continue to fail those that cannot front this persistently increasing cost. It’s time for our representatives, the regents, and the UC system to fund our future.
With workshops led by experts in their field, we felt that though an expansive topic, we would be able to learn multitudes from the similarities and differences we shared with other students. Yes, it is true that this topic affects different aspects of our lives in different ways, but through learning about these differences, we have the chance to better change the systems that work against us, to understand the worlds that exist beyond our own and hopefully, feel a little more powerful in knowing that our fellow Bruins have our backs.
So now, I ask you, where will you be this November 8th?
For more information regarding workshop times and locations, please see the official Bruin Day of Action website: https://bruindayofaction.splashthat.com