The Science Policy Group at Berkeley

We are a group of graduate students (and a few undergrads, post-docs, faculty, and staff!) at UC Berkeley in STEM fields who are excited about the intersection of science and policy, eager to learn and share our knowledge on how policy influences science and vice-versa. Our group explores how scientists can better communicate with policymakers, and we turn that into action while interfacing with local, state, and national elected representatives. We strive to increase conversation among students and the broader community on science policy issues, enable students to advocate for science and evidence-based policies, and provide science policy-related educational and professional development opportunities for students.

We meet twice a month on Tuesdays at 6:00, alternating between invited speakers (see our Events page) and internal meetings where we work on our projects. Sign up for our newsletter and come check us out!

SPG members host tax bill phone blitz

On Wednesday, November 15, Science Policy Group members organized a phone blitz for graduate students to make calls to their Congresspeople and share their opinion about the tuition exemption in current tax law. Students from six departments made over 150 calls to legislators in about three hours, and the next day the clause was brought up on the floor of the House.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act removes existing tax law section 117(d), which exempts our tuition from our taxable income. It means that graduate students don’t pay taxes on the ~$15,000 – $50,000 of tuition that our departments pay universities on our behalf. SPG member Vetri Velan wrote a document that outlines the impact of this change on students from different schools. In line with our group’s commitment to enabling everyone to take action, resources were made available to students calling both in support of and opposition to the change.

As of November 16, the removal clause remains in the House language that passed the chamber. Similar language is not present in the Senate’s version of the bill; if the current version gets through the Senate, the clause will be up for discussion in conference. Keep an eye on this page and on our twitter account for further updates.

Welcome to the SPG homepage!

We are a new UC Berkeley student group, beginning in the Fall 2017. We meet every other Monday at 7:00, usually in LeConte 375, and discuss anything and everything at the intersection of science and policy. The group is currently mostly graduate students, but undergraduates are more than welcome. Come join us!