The UC Student Association will be collecting postcards signed by UC students as part of the three-week California DREAM Act Campaign, an initiative encouraging Governor Jerry Brown to pass Assembly Bills 130 and 131. If passed, these bills will allow undocumented students to be eligible for financial aid as well as in-state tuition while attending California public universities.
Moreover, students feel that the campaign is in actuality a measure concerned with holding Governor Brown liable for promises made during his gubernatorial campaign.
“At this point, it’s not necessarily persuading Governor Jerry Brown, but it’s about keeping him accountable for promises made. Constituents that voted [for] him strongly encourage him to sign the DREAM Act,” said Douglas Wagoner, the Associated Students external vice president of statewide affairs.
A Supreme Court ruling in November unanimously voted to uphold AB 540. This bill allows California public universities to grant in-state tuition to undocumented students, as long as they attended a California high school for at least three years and received a diploma or GED. Yet these students continue to be ineligible for financial aid, despite having completed their primary education in the California school system. If the current legislation is approved, California will become the third state to offer financial aid to undocumented students.
According to Elysse Madarang, UCSB campus organizing director, the collaborative effort between eight UC campuses aims to collect 10,000 postcards, all addressed to Governor Brown, who pledged to pass the bills during his gubernatorial campaign. The postcards will then be delivered to Sacramento on February 28—the last of three days of the annual Student Lobby Conference, put on by the UC Student Association.
“We are very optimistic that we will meet our goal,” said Madarang. UCLA collected 500 postcards on the first campaign day alone. Each campus set its own individual collection goal. According to Wagoner, UCSB has collected approximately 1,500 so far and hopes to collect a total of 2,000 by the campaign’s end on February 25.
According to Madarang, the UC Student Association decided on postcards after much brainstorming for creative and influential ideas. The hope is that the postcards, which are easily accessible and clear, will provide visual evidence showing that UC students support the legislation.
Wagoner showed further support for the postcard campaign approach: “It’s a tried-and-true grassroots tactic; a powerful demonstration of student support for a socially important legislation. It’s tangible. Thousands and thousands of students stand behind the California DREAM act,” said Wagoner.
These postcards are being distributed in classrooms, at tabling events, and in areas of high student traffic, as well as to campus organizations. If you are not able to access a postcard, an online petition is also available. Both postcards and online petitions simply ask that students indicate that they are registered voters.
Madarang backed up her sentiments of confidence that the DREAM Act Campaign will be effective, citing past successes of many student-run movements. Moreover, running this legislation, if passed, will not be as expensive as running past legislations. She hopes this will be a significant factor in the ultimate decision.
Another wish is that the pool of students participating in the DREAM Act Campaign will play a vital role in the decision. When discussing the function of the current postcard promotion, Madarang stated, “I think it has some sort of play. Governor Brown has shown support. These people [signing postcards] are registered voters, and [UCSB] has the most registered voters [of all the UCs].”
In addition to distributing postcards, the UC Student Association’s campaign informs students about what the passing of AB 130 and 131 would entail. “[We’ve] been educating about what it means [and] how it could impact our campus. After hearing and being educated, everyone has been really supportive and willing to work [with us],” said Madarang.
Wagoner stated that the campaign organizers feels grateful for the amount of support received thus far. Furthermore, he is pleased that the initiative is mobilizing and is thrilled at the prospect of expanding access to public education. “I am really excited and humbled that so many UCSB students are taking the time to get these postcards signed,” said Wagoner.
Untimely, the campaign wishes to demonstrate the idea of students helping students.
“The CA DREAM Act is important because it will invest in thousands of Californians across the state at Community Colleges, State Universities, and at the University of California, who after graduation will invest in the state’s economy,” said Gilberto Soria, UCLA undergraduate student representative in a written statement.
UC President Mark Yudof shared a similar opinion, stating in a previously prepared written statement, “Through their hard work and perseverance, these students have earned the opportunity to attend UC. Their accomplishments should not be disregarded or their futures jeopardized.”