Hoping to make financial decisions by the University of California more accessible to students, UCLA student leaders have worked to give students representation on an advisory committee.
With the efforts of Jasmine Hill, president of the Undergraduate Students Association Council, up to two student representatives will be allowed to observe the meetings of the Investment Advisory Group of the UC Board of Regents starting the next academic year.
The Investment Advisory Group provides general advice to the UC Regents’ finance committee on how to spend its money. Currently, the committee is comprised of investment professionals, faculty, UC Foundation members not serving as regents and a union-represented UC employee.
Hill said she had to make some compromises to her original request of adding student representatives to the committee.
“Students will not have any voting power but just a place at the table for the initial year,” she said.
Hill added that the committee is an advisory group that rarely votes.
The Investment Advisory Group deals with money that comes from a variety of places, such as student fees, said Cristopher Santos, USAC external vice president.
If students have questions about the UC Regents, there is a student regent who they can talk to, Santos said. But it is difficult to get an answer from the mostly bureaucratic Investment Advisory Group.
The student representatives will be appointed through the UC Student Association, Hill said. UCSA is a coalition of UC students and student governments that aims to increase accessibility, affordability and quality of the UC system.
The proposal started when students wanted the UC to make more responsible investments, said Jesse Cheng, a UC Irvine fifth-year Asian American studies student and this year’s student regent.
Currently, students do not know what types of recommendations and decisions are being made and the type of projects the UC is investing in, Santos said.
“We’ve always said … it just doesn’t make sense that the committee is dealing with students’ money and at the same time, there is no student representation,” Santos said.
Hill said she met with a coalition of student government presidents of other UC schools, UCSA and the Student Fee Advisory Committee, a student-majority committee that advises the chancellor on the allocation of campus-based student service fees and other student fee issues.
According to Hill, she and the coalition met with UC President Mark Yudof and several high-level UC Office of the President officials to try to gain support for having a student representative in the decision-making and advisory for the financial future of the UC.
“For the first time, we’ll actually have some students there, and we’ll be able to hold someone accountable in terms of giving us an answer,” Santos said.
Steve Montiel, a spokesman for the UC Office of the President, said UCOP appreciates the diligence and patience of the students who worked with them to find a solution.
Although students will not have voting power, it is more about students having a larger perspective about the UC fiscal situation and increasing student representation, Cheng said.
“It’s something that the administration and students can build on towards a more stable financial future for the UC,” he said.
Hill said there will be further conversations to solidify the exact details of the number of representatives and when their terms will begin.