Students Rally for Cal Grants

Kevin Wu/Guardian
Kevin Wu/Guardian

The A.S. Office of External Affairs held a rally yesterday on Library Walk, part of a campaign aimed at protecting the future of Cal Grants with a state constitutional amendment.

The campaign, which began at a UC Students Association board meeting last month, hopes to convince Sen. Denise Ducheny (D-Chula Vista) to draft an amendment that would save the Cal Grants from future funding cuts.

In May, Governor Schwarzenegger proposed to eliminate the Cal Grant program completely, inciting protests across all 10 UC campuses.

“Luckily, the legislature put the money back and gave a lot of students who rely on the Cal Grant renewed hope for being able to attend their university,” Celina Velazquez, Legislative Liaison for the A.S. Office of External Affairs, said.

The event is part of a statewide campaign organized by the External Affairs offices at each UC campus to pass an amendment that would make Cal Grant funding a guarantee instead of something that has to be re-approved from year to year.

UCSD’s external affairs office met with Ducheny last week to discuss the amendment. So far, however, attempts to garner Ducheny’s support have been less successful than West would have liked.

“She’s been a strong advocate for Cal Grants and for education, but … she doesn’t feel strongly that Cal Grants should be mandatory funded,” West said. “I really hope that we can continue to pressure her for her support.”

West said Ducheny currently favors an effort to gather outside funding for the Cal Grant program over drafting a constitutional amendment.

Though the rally was sparsely attended — about 15 to 20 people held signs outside Geisel Library — it attracted local media attention. News stations like San Diego 6 and Univision Televisione, among others, provided bilingual publicity for the event.

“We really hope to phone more students and really get the word out,” West said. “Hopefully, this is the start of even stronger press conferences.”

Readers can contact Hayley Bisceglia-Martin at [email protected]