In the last few weeks of 2017, Vetri Velan and Kathy Shield shaped the national conversation with their analysis and calculator for determining how the proposed tax plan could impact graduate students. Ultimately, their efforts paid off, and the final language did not include the changes to graduate students’ taxes on tuition money. With support from the UC Berkeley Government Relations and Communications teams, the Graduate Student Assembly, and even Chancellor Carol Christ herself, as well as the rest of the SPG members making phone calls to their representatives and sharing resources with their friends across the country, Velan and Shield were able to alter the narrative and get coverage in local, state, and national publications. (See below)
Not sure how tax code section 117(d) matters? Read Velan’s analysis here.
The calculator was open for anyone to use nationally, and provided information to thousands of students, journalists, and activists.
In addition to these publicly available resources, additional information about calling representatives was made available to university students across the country, and Shield wrote a short memo that UC representatives in Washington DC brought to the Hill. Shield and Velan were recognized on Jan. 12, 2018 by Rep. Barbara Lee when she entered a summary of their efforts into the 115th Congress’ Congressional Record., and presented them with commemorative plaques at a community event the next day.
Working to influence policy at the national level was an eye opening experience for both students and the group as a whole that led to new relationships within the university and with student leaders nationwide. As a group, we look forward to continuing to work with the contacts we’ve made to continue supporting science and scientists nationally.