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Amendment to add 2nd voting student member to UC Board of Regents progresses

The University of California Board of Regents (pictured) would be required to have two students with voting power on the board if Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 is passed. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Maguire Riley

Feb. 9, 2022 10:57 p.m.

A recently proposed amendment to the state constitution would require the University of California Board of Regents to have two student regents with voting power, which would double the amount of student representation on the board.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 5, introduced by Sen. Steve Glazer on April 15, would mandate that a second voting student be added to the UC Board of Regents by amending Section 9 of Article IX in the state constitution, which lays out the responsibilities and powers held by the regents. Currently, there is one student on the UC Board of Regents with a vote and another student, who is considered in training, who does not have a vote. SCA 5 would give this trainee a vote, eliminating the mandatory training year.

Students have unique perspectives and provide day-to-day feedback about their universities, Glazer said in an emailed statement.

“Students are the ones who are directly affected by decisions that the UC Board of Regents make,” Glazer said in the statement. “It’s critical that they are given a stronger voice to have an impact on what the Board decides.”

SCA 5 was passed in the California Senate on Jan. 26 but still needs to be passed by the California State Assembly in order for it to appear on the general ballot, according to the state constitution. If the Assembly passes it and Californians vote in favor of it, it will be officially ratified, and a second voting student regent will be added to the board.

Joshua Lewis, a student at UC Berkeley and the chair of the UC Student Association, said it is a priority for the UCSA that student voices are present on the board. Lewis said he worked with other members of UCSA last year to get SCA 5 drafted, workshopped and ready for the floor.

He and others in UCSA first tried to initiate a conversation with the regents last year about adding another voting student to the board, but they were unsuccessful, Lewis said.

Lewis added that the idea was put on pause until Glazer’s office reached out and said the senator wanted to do something that would help students in California.

“Doubling the student power there after all of the successes a single student has had is going to be really beneficial,” Lewis said.

Alexis Zaragoza, a student at UC Berkeley and the current voting student member of the UC Board of Regents, said that if the training year were to be eliminated, it would increase the impact the two student regents could have.

Two student voters will allow for diversity of opinion that is not possible with only one vote, Zaragoza said.

“Rather than just a student representative or something, we’d get treated as actual individual regents,” she added.

Zaragoza added that the trainee role creates a strange dynamic in which students do not know how much jurisdiction they have. In addition, she said there is a clear difference in treatment between a trainee and a voting member of the board. For example, a trainee is less likely to receive a prompt response to an email than a voting student, she said.

“You’re also treated a little bit better during your designate year if it were to be a voting position,” Zaragoza said.

Zaragoza said she was optimistic about the effect of SCA 5 on other schools because she believes it will encourage schools such as the University of Washington and community colleges to increase student representation on their boards. She added that this bill would also bring the UC to the same level of the California State University system, which already has two voting student regents.

“Adding on top of everything else, (we’re) saying to these other states, as well, ‘Students are capable. Here’s our proof,'” Zaragoza said. “We have this massive university system that deals with tons of labs and medical hospitals and tons of things, and we have two students. So what’s your excuse now?”

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