ASUC, a Voice for Students
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By Joy Chang
UCSF consists of highly talented students representing diverse backgrounds and experiences, sharing a common commitment to patient care and community health. Many students at UCSF are immersed and actively involved in their respective programs, and it is easy to lose sight of an important advantage of attending a health professional school — working with other health professionals.
The Associated Students of the University of California at San Francisco (ASUC) represents approximately 1,500 Dental, Medical, and Pharmacy students. The student government serves as a common resource for the different professional schools and acts as a bridge between the university and professional students.
The primary purpose of ASUC is to “develop, promote and regulate professional school governments and activities,” according to its mission statement. ASUC achieves this by funding and assisting the activities and events sponsored by Registered Campus Organizations (RCOs), and by hosting a variety of inter-professional events, such as the All School Formal, cultural events and community health fairs.
ASUC also voices student opinions in the University of California Student Association (UCSA), a coalition of students representing all UC schools to the UC Regents and to the state government.
ASUC’s top priorities this year are to: 1) optimize the student government system for voicing opinions and obtaining funding; 2) maintain fiscal solvency for student organizations, despite budget cuts, and 3) improve transparency between ASUC and the student body and increase student involvement.
Optimizing student government
UCSF students are currently represented by two student governments. ASUC represents Dentistry, Medicine and Pharmacy, whereas the Graduate Students Association (GSA) represents the Graduate Division, Nursing and Physical Therapy.
The two-government system was historically implemented in order to be consistent with other UCs, which also have two governments representing their graduate and undergraduate divisions, and because the Nursing and Physical Therapy schools award master’s degrees, placing them in the Graduate Division.
The disadvantage of the two-government system is primarily its inefficiency. There is no unified student body government representing all student interests, and UCSF administrators interested in obtaining student perspectives have to present to both the ASUC and GSA.
RCOs must present their ideas to both ASUC and GSA for funding, which makes funding decisions contingent upon what each student government decides. Inter-professional collaboration and school-wide events are more difficult to coordinate between ASUC and GSA, and are less efficient, since this means that events are usually spear-headed by one student government or the other.
ASUC and GSA are currently working towards a solution to this problem, possibly by forming a United Student Government to speak for all students, thereby increasing inter-professional and graduate-professional collaboration.
Formation of such a student government would serve as a unified voice for students across campus, and greatly improve collaboration with students from different schools.
Maintaining fiscal solvency
ASUC distributes funds to RCOs and student governments to sponsor academic, cultural and social events catering to professional students. On average, approximately $80,000 is awarded each year through an online application process.
This year, however, the funds from the Reserve have diminished, so ASUC will have to make some budget cuts in funding unless a Fee Referendum is passed.
Budget cuts could potentially drastically reduce the number and size of events hosted for all students, and ASUC is working on a solution to this problem. For updated information, check out the ASUC website or the RCO portal.
Increase student involvement
ASUC provides opportunities for fostering relationships and collaboration between students from different professional programs. Popular social activities in the past have included Trivia Nights, ice cream socials, movie events, community service projects, blood drives and the All School Formal.
This year, ASUC plans to continue the social activities that were organized in the past, as well as to implement a new, student-run, school-wide health fair to increase inter-professional collaboration.
Meet the ASUC Board members
ASUC is directly governed by an Executive Board of seven student-elected officers, elected school presidents of Dentistry, Medicine, and Pharmacy and representatives of six to 10 RCOs. ASUC is also extensively assisted by the staff of the Student Activity Center. An updated list of active board members can be found on the ASUC website.
President: Austin Walker
Executive Vice President: Matthew Cummings
VP, Academic Affairs: Harjus Birk
VP, Community Health: Polina Pulyanina
VP, Community Relations: Joy Chang
VP, External Affairs: William Kim
VP, Student Affairs: Justin Becerra and Nicole La Mantia
ASUC encourages all students to become involved, and is open to student opinions and concerns. Please check out the ASUC website at asuc.ucsf.edu for more updates and information.
Joy Chang is a third-year dental student and the ASUC VP of Community Relations.