Five west coast student organizations joined the University of California Student Association, or UCSA, in sending a letter to the Biden-Harris administration’s higher education team Monday.
The letter recommended the Biden-Harris administration consider certain priorities in higher education. These include strengthening Title IX, doubling the Pell Grant, investing in students’ basic needs and addressing rising digital equity gaps, among other recommendations.
“For the past four years, we saw eroding support for student financial aid, research funding, and education investment,” said UCSA President Aidan Arasasingham in an email. “But more troubling, we saw direct policy attacks from the Trump administration on marginalized students and their communities. UCSA looks to push federal leaders to reverse these damaging trends over the next four years.”
UCSA has been strengthening its relationship with other states’ student organizations this fall, and Arasasingham hopes a united front of higher education students nationwide will more effectively drive change.
The presidents of the Cal State Student Association, Arizona Students’ Association, Washington Student Association, or WSA, the Student Senate for California Community Colleges, or SSCCC, and the chairman of the Oregon Student Association joined Arasasingham in authoring and signing the letter.
According to an email from WSA President Samantha Cruz Mendoza, many higher education programs may experience state and federal budget cuts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With that in mind, she and the WSA said they would like to see higher education programs, such as financial aid, prioritized.
“We have numerous financial aid programs that support the education of thousands of students in America, and we would like them to be deemed essential,” Mendoza said in her email. “The future of our country depends on the academic success of its students.”
Speaking for California community college students, SSCCC President Stephen Kodur noted in an email that while their needs have been “ever-growing,” per-student funding has decreased, and Trump administration policies have “jeopardized” student success. Kodur and SSCCC are hoping the new administration will recognize the importance of federal funding for community colleges.
He added that the SSCCC wants to see support for student populations such as foster youth, international students, formerly incarcerated students and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students.
“The incoming Biden-Harris administration has made education a cornerstone of their agenda to build back better,” Arasasingham said in his email. “This nation-leading letter, backed by associations that represent 3.3 million students, is just the beginning of our advocacy.”