The annual Student Lobby Conference (SLC) served as a weekend-long opportunity for University of California students from across the state to gather at the California State Capitol to lobby officials on several issues and connect with other student advocates. The event was hosted by the UC Student Association (UCSA) and held from March 22-25. Approximately 300 UC students were in attendance with UCR’s 60-student delegation boasted to be the largest at the conference.
Students spent the first day of the conference discussing the rising unaffordability of a college education, food insecurity on campus, police accountability and other prominent issues during workshop sessions, all of which affect each UC campus uniquely. A study from the UC Global Food Initiative found that 62.5 percent of UCR undergraduates suffer from food insecurity compared to 42 percent systemwide.
Vincent Rasso, a UCR sophomore and Governmental Relations Assistant Director for ASUCR’s Office of External Affairs, highlighted how important UCR’s presence was during these discussions.
“I believe that having UCR students present at an advocacy conference like SLC is so important, especially in ensuring that our campus community remains present in and educated or aware of the issues that greatly impact our students at disproportionately higher rates than other UC campuses,” said Rasso.
During the second day of the SLC, students had the chance to converse with other student advocates during caucus sessions and meal times. “It’s not just taking a group. It’s building a sense of community at the SLC, it’s an opportunity to build a coalition and meet others who contribute to the university atmosphere. All the work pays off at the end,” Lennin Kuri, a political science and public policy major and ASUCR’s Governmental Relations Director said.
The last day of the conference was spent in the rain at the State Capitol in meetings with legislators and ended with a press conference. Emilia Martinez, UCR junior and UCSA Government Relations Chair, gave a speech during the press conference, saying, “I get to meet so many of you and so many of you are so willing to be so vulnerable while we are at the capital where you share your stories.”
One student, Patricia Moreno-Gonzalez, a UCR sophomore, political science major and first-time delegate to the conference, felt empowered by the experience. “I never thought the student body could be so powerful to have the opportunity to talk to the people in charge,” she said.
The conference concluded after UC students met with Assembly and Senate members to discuss the legislative and budget priorities of the UCSA. Students who missed the opportunity to attend the annual Student Lobby Conference are able to apply during Winter quarter of the 2019-2020 academic year.