I was known at school as "Prop 13 Girl". I spent my time at UCLA trying to tax corporations. Really. If my professor allowed it, in class I'd give presentations on the corporate tax loophole. At night I would go to bars and get patrons to sign petitions for tax reform.
During my second year at UCLA, I joined thousands of students to protest a 32% fee increase. Despite surrounding their building, brandishing signs and chanting angry words, our efforts were unsuccessful. All of the screaming and marching in the world couldn't have stopped the Regents from increasing student fees -- Sacramento had dealt the UC a devastating cut in its recent budget. We then focused our anger towards the state Legislature. They told us the same thing: we don't have a choice; there is no money in California.
Next year, at a student conference, I learned for the first time that there was a reason why higher education in California was suffering: corporations aren't paying their fair share of property taxes. I decided that we needed to change our approach. If there wasn't money in California for education, well, we'd have to get it back.
As a UCLA representative on the board of the UC Student Association, I proposed a campaign to focus our advocacy efforts to close the corporate loophole. We spent the year educating students and urging the Regents and Legislature to support Prop 13 reform. Under the slogan "Fund the UC", we sent 14,000 petitions to Jerry Brown. Slowly, “Prop 13” became a regularly used phrase in UC campus organizing.
We accomplished much that year, but when I graduated in 2012, my tuition was still twice as high as it was my freshman year. There were about half as many classes offered in my Sociology major. And more and more people were dropping out.
I owe everything that I am today to the professors, classmates, and organizations of the University of California. That is the reason I decided to join Evolve and continue the fight for Prop 13 reform. I believe in this issue, and I believe that I have a duty to help save the future of education in our state.
Now I'm making the exciting transition from student government to full time organizer at Evolve. This weekend, I'm in Irvine at the UC Student Association Congress to begin working with the next generation of student leaders on this campaign. Students are as motivated as ever to continue the work we started, and it is with student organizing that we will win this long-fought battle for Prop 13 reform.