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UC Regents create new student role

By Dylan Nguyen

Oct. 10, 2013 1:25 a.m.

A total of three students will be able to sit on committees during the UC Board of Regents meeting next month, which some say is still not enough to fully represent the student voice.

The newest student to join the discussion, Vanessa Garcia of UC San Diego, will attend the meeting as a student observer, a new position established by UC officials after receiving a request from the University of California Student Association, an activist coalition of UC students.

Regents members and UC administrators hold committee meetings to help them decide on certain issues before they vote on policy. UC officials agreed to allow a student to sit in on a Board of Regents committee meeting and participate in the process to help regents vote on certain issues, Garcia said.

The UCSA chooses which regents committee meeting it would like a student to attend and then nominates a student for the position, said UC spokeswoman Brooke Converse in an emailed statement. The students must receive approval from their respective regents committee to attend, Converse added.

The main student representative at regents meetings is currently Cinthia Flores, the student regent, who possesses voting power and advocates for the student interest. The current Student Regent Designate, Sadia Saifuddin, also sits on the board and participates in discussions but cannot vote.

Garcia will have less power than Flores and Saifuddin and cannot vote.

“What I do is (act as) the student voice,” said Garcia, who will be an observer for the Regents’ Committee on Educational Policy. “I am able to give my thoughts and any information about educational policy.”

Garcia said she believes the UC needs to do more to engage as many students as possible. She said holding regents meetings on more UC campuses for students to attend would help.

“There are so many administrators and UC individuals compared to students at the regents (meetings),” Garcia said. “I think we have made strides but we need to improve representation.”

Garcia’s position, however, does have more involvement with regents than another of UCSA’s student representative positions, the student advocate. Advocates are chosen by UCSA to give public comments for a few minutes at the beginning of regents meetings.

Although the advocates only officially speak for a couple minutes, they can directly talk to actual regents at certain times during the meeting to talk about student concerns, Converse said.

Some students said having up to roughly two dozen representatives at board meetings is not extensive enough to serve the interests of more than 200,000 students who attend the UC.

“There is always more room for student representation,” said UCSA President Kareem Aref.

Aref, however, said student representation is going in the right direction and believes that part of challenge lies in informing students about opportunities to be a student representative.

Student representation also extends to the UC systemwide committees, which meet separately from the regents throughout the year. While campus administrators mostly occupy the committee meetings, a few students also attend. The UCSA also sends students to attend the committee meetings.

These committees give information and recommendations at the regents meetings, said Devin Murphy, a third-year political science student at UCLA. Murphy is an undergraduate representative to the Systemwide Committee on Education Finance Model.

“The (student representation issue) was definitely something that pushed me to become a representative on a systemwide committee,” Murphy said.

At the systemwide committee meeting, which usually meets through teleconference, Murphy said he feels the committee members listen to his ideas. Murphy said that the committee helps him through the process and feels that his advice is well-received.

Currently, there are no ongoing negotiations between the UC and UCSA to increase student representation beyond implementing the student observer program, Converse said.

Converse added that the UC and UCSA are working closely to facilitate the access students have to UC government, including paying for travel costs for student representative to attend the regents meetings.

At the moment, UCSA is nominating two more student observers to sit in on regents committee meetings. UCSA opened applications last week to all UC students to apply for this position.

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Dylan Nguyen
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