As Evolve's campus organizer, I've been working all year with the University of California Student Association on their campaign to educate UC students about Prop. 13 and its impact on higher education access and affordability. Titled "Fund the UC," it’s the same campaign I started as an undergrad at UCLA two years ago!
This month, we're collecting 10,000 Fund the UC postcards from students at every campus to send to Governor Brown, demanding that he publicly support closing the corporate tax loophole in Prop 13 once and for all.
Over the past few weeks, student leaders have been delivering our message to thousands of their peers through an impressive variety of means, including standing outside dining halls with clipboards, walking students to class as they explain why tuition is so high, making presentations to classrooms packed with people, and hosting Prop. 13 forums.
Tax reform isn't traditionally one of the "sexier" issues on campus, but I've been blown away by these students' creativity in marketing the campaign to their classmates. UCLA and UC Berkeley created photo galleries of students who wrote down personal reasons for why they believe in funding higher education.
UC San Diego wisely appealed to college students' undying love for free food by handing out otter pops to celebrate the tuition "freeze" and pieces of pizza to "give Governor Brown a piece of your mind."
Above all else, though, I've been incredibly inspired by these students' true passion for this issue. When asked what she wanted for her birthday last week, Andrea Chu of the UCLA External Vice President's office replied on Facebook, "Sign a Fund the UC postcard! I’m not kidding. Please sign one if you love me and affordable education." The organizers at UC Berkeley are so dedicated to the campaign that sometimes they skip meetings and classes to get postcards signed on Sproul Plaza (when I realized this, I insisted that they go back to class). And on many occasions, student leaders sacrificed their weekends to drive a grueling seven hours across the state just to organize with other campuses.
As an organizer, sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of this campaign and discouraged by older voters' weary proclamations that "Prop 13 is never going to change" and "corporations win every time."
But a movement is stirring in California, the likes of which we've never seen before. And students – some of the hardest-working, smartest and most inspiring people in the world - are at the forefront of it. So – are YOU down to Fund the UC?