During the UC Board of Regents’ teleconference meeting, chair Sherry Lansing said she planned to gather more student input and visit campuses over the coming weeks.
It is unacceptable that the board is only now announcing outreach efforts. It should not have taken controversial police actions or strong protest movements for this to commence.
Still, we hope that Lansing’s promise is more than just a PR stunt, and that it results in substantial dialogue between the regents and students about tuition hikes, academic programs and the future of the University.
From now on, there should be regular interaction between the board and UC campuses. The regents cannot wisely or conscientiously make decisions that affect thousands of students and their families if they remain disconnected from the university.
The board has isolated itself since November 2009, holding nearly every meeting at the UC San Francisco Mission Bay campus, where there are no undergraduate students.
The last meeting was broken up over four different locations, making it impossible for UC students to present a united front calling for change. Again, student voices were muffled.
Lansing ““ along with Regent Eddie Island, Chancellor Gene Block and UC Riverside Chancellor Tim White ““ did meet with students at UCLA for about 20 minutes after the teleconference ended.
But 20 minutes is hardly enough time to meet a representative, diverse sample of students and hear a range of thoughts on the direction of the UC. Student Regent Alfredo Mireles, Jr. has made himself accessible to students, participating in the meeting at UCLA last January, when he answered questions from the community. It’s time for the 18 other regents to follow suit.
The regents come from all over California, and each should make an effort to visit the closest campus at least once a quarter for a town hall-style meeting with students. Additionally, the regents could utilize social media to hold online chat sessions with students.
The board also needs more student representation to balance out the number of regents who are executives and have no background in education.
As student regents have proposed, there should be one regent who represents undergraduates and another that represents graduates. These two groups of students have different interests, and each deserves a seat at the table.
The regents could also resume holding their meetings at undergraduate campuses. Though the next meeting will be held at UC Riverside, the five after that are slated to take place in San Francisco.
As the regents search for a way to cope with reduced state support, they need to listen to our thoughts on how the UC should move forward. Ultimately, it’s our university ““ not theirs.