Illustration by Christine Hipp
Illustration by Christine Hipp.

Roughly 40 UC Santa Cruz students lobbied in Sacramento March 3 as part of the March for Higher Education, an annual protest for higher education reform. While turnout was smaller than last year’s action, over 1,000 UC, CSU and community college students came to show their investment in the issues at hand.

The UC Student Association (UCSA) organizes travel and accommodations for UC students annually, with Banana Slugs joining the tide of other UC students through Student Union Assembly (SUA). Organizing director of SUA and representative of UCSA Kevin Huang spoke of the experience in Sacramento.

“We try to make sure that … the conference isn’t just for the delegates, [but also for] people who go who are able to come back and bring the information and knowledge back onto our campus,” Huang said.

Approximately 2,000 students marched almost one mile from Raley Field to the Capitol Mall on the morning of March 3. As per a pre-planned lobby schedule negotiated by UCSC third-year and UCSA legislative liaison Maria Jennings, groups of UCSC students met up with multiple local representatives afterward and lobbied for a broad spectrum of issues. In an effort to maximize influence, students mostly met with legislators local to Santa Cruz.

Students discussed the budget for UC, online education, caps on class credits, campus diversity, Proposition 13 and Cal Grant reform. They also lobbied legislators to address the high school-to-prison pipeline, citing an increasing amount of California high school students being sent to prison before any form of higher education.

Having arrived in Sacramento late Friday evening, the UCSC students attended a series of worshops on effective lobbying on the weekend.

“Our students were really engaged throughout the entire conference,” Huang said.

His last year attending as a student, Huang said he was encouraged to see younger participants.

“Most of the people who came were first- and second-years who never experience things like this,” Huang said. “It was a great growing environment for these students.”