Following the passage of Standing Policy 1 (SP1) and Standing Policy 2 (SP2) in 1995 and California Proposition 209 in 1996, the University of California (UC) experienced a decline in the admissions and enrollment of historically underrepresented students. In response, students across the UC system organized to advocate for the creation of resources and services to outreach and retain historically underrepresented students. Through their advocacy, students secured funding for Student Initiated Programs (SIP) from the UC Office of the President (UCOP) and ran campus based student-fee referendum campaigns to establish Centers to house the SIPs. For over a decade, students at UC Irvine made several attempts to pass a referendum, but failed to meet quorum.
In spring 2011 students met with university administrators and secured temporary funds to establish the Student Outreach and Retention (SOAR) Center and in fall 2011 SOAR celebrated its grand opening. In spring 2014 Student Ambassadors led the SOAR Up campaign during the general election of the Associated Student University of California Irvine (ASUCI) general election. Contrary to prior years, the 2014 election met quorum with over 25% of the UCI undergraduate vote, and the SOAR Up campaign passed with 74.49% “yes” votes. A $6.50 quarterly student fee was assessed for the first time fall 2016, and it will be assessed for the next 30 years to support the growth of the SOAR Center.