In 1915, students at the University Farm created a student association known as the Associated Students of the University Farm to enhance the quality of student life on campus by providing student services as well as socializing functions and entertaining programs.
In 1933, members of the Association voted in favor of non-voluntary membership fees to finance the Association’s programs. After World War II, with returning veterans enrolling under the GI Bill at various institutions across the nation, Davis experienced an influx of students, which spurned the implementation of additional academic programs.
In 1955, the first floor of the Memorial Union was constructed, and in 1959, the Regents of the University of California designated Davis as a general campus. The student association amended its constitution and bylaws and the Associated Students of the University of California, Davis (ASUCD) began. During this time, the Executive Committee consisted of students, alumni, and faculty members. Staff members directed the various activities of ASUCD. Under this structure, ASUCD began operating the campus bookstore, the soda fountain and a student store as well as initiating Intercollegiate Athletics and campus publications.
In the early 1960s, the Memorial Union began developing student-oriented programs. Student fees were substantially increased, and as a result, ASUCD relinquished services such as the bookstore to the University. ASUCD transferred administrative supervision of the UCD Bookstore to the Campus Administration in 1966. A change in the ASUCD constitution reorganized the old Executive Committee into the all-student Legislative Assembly.
In 1971, another constitutional change restructured the government in order to parallel the federal system with the Senate (Legislative), President and Vice President (Executive), and the Student Relations Council (Judicial). The career staff was reorganized to report only to ASUCD executive officers. Within the next year, the UC System wide Administration recognized all ASUC’s as official campus units. ASUCD still shares the dual roles of constituent organization and campus unit to this day.
With an increase in the ASUCD budget, a career staff position was developed to assist services, especially the programming and commercial service, and to provide continuity from year to year. Late in 1977, ASUCD entered into an agreement with the Graduate Student Association (GSA) to offer some services that the GSA could not easily provide. The government was changed again in 1978, establishing a modified city-council style government, which also provided for an advisory commission and an elected president who sat as a member of the Council.
The turbulence of the late 1960s and early 1970s combined with the mushrooming enrollment of the University marked a time for new evaluations of the legitimacy of student government. From the original socially oriented functions, ASUCD grew to include more than forty (40) different student services by 1982. The ASUCD government continued to expand, creating the Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission in the early 1980s, which served alongside the Internal Affairs Commission, External Affairs Commission, Business and Finance Commission, and Academic Affairs Commission.
In 1995 and 1996, sweeping changes to ASUCD’s structure changed the seven (7) members Executive Council into twelve (12) members Senate, and transformed the Student Judicial Council and Student Appeals Board into the ASUCD Court. The Environmental Policy and Planning Commission was created the same year. The Gender and Sexuality Commission soon followed it in 2002 developing from the Sexual Assault Awareness Committee founded in 1991.
The slate system, in which slates of candidates for office run together much like political parties, originated in Winter of 2000. Although there had been slates prior to 2000, none had been permanent until this point. Slates frequently had a sweep of elections until Choice Voting was used for the first time in the Fall 2003; since then most slates have been represented in the ASUCD Senate. In 2007, the Outreach Assembly was created in order to better reach out to registered student organizations and ASUCD in order to bridge the gap between them.
Many changes have come and gone in the ninety-year history of the Associated Students, University of California, Davis. In the last twenty years many services have remained relevant while others have become outdated, such as the Just Your Typing Service, Book Exchange, and the El Rodeo yearbook, which were all replaced with modern technology. UC Davis is the only UC school that still has an Experimental College. Other newer services have emerged such as the information technology and graphic design services of Creative Media. ASUCD flagship units continue to expand.