The UC Board of Regents will vote on the formation of a unique student adviser position during its Jan. 20 to 21 meeting, in response to demands for increased student representation. The student adviser is expected to be a nonvoting board member advocating for student issues.
The proposal will first go to the Committee on Governance, which has six voting regents. If the item reaches a simple majority vote, it will then be forwarded to the entire board for another majority vote.
If the resolution successfully passes, the first student adviser’s term is projected to begin July 2017. According to current Student Regent Avi Oved, the student adviser will most likely be chosen from the applicant pool of the Student Regent selection process.
Oved considers the student adviser position a much-needed first step to increasing student power at a political level.
“We have nearly 250,000 students across the UC system, yet we only have two seats in the UC Board of Regents and only one single vote,” Oved told the UCSD Guardian. “There was always interest in having another voting student regent, which requires a constitutional amendment. It has been talked about among student regents for years, but there has never really been a foundation to build off of.”
Oved described how the student adviser will be collaborating with the Regents to achieve specific goals.
“Modelled similarly to the student regent position, [the student adviser] has the flexibility to speak at the table and build relationships, to talk about what they want to accomplish during the term,” he said. “The student regent and the student adviser would work together as a unit, with the student regent serving as a mentor.”
The UC Student Association, an organization that dedicates itself to politically empowering UC students, has come to support Oved in his efforts. UCSA President Kevin Sabo agrees that a new student position on the Board of Regents has the potential to be beneficial.
“The student adviser would presumably have more access [than the UCSA Board],” Sabo told the Guardian. “It will be a good opportunity to increase student representation. … There are always a lot of issues to work on, such as issues for graduate students or housing.”
UCSA Board Member and Vice President of External Affairs Krystl Fabella explained to the Guardian how the new position will draw attention to student-specific issues.
“We need to increase the role of students in the governance of the University of California because it is becoming too easy for 12-year tenure elected officials to stray away from student-centered decisions,” she said. “While it may not be a vote or direct governance, increased student presence will have the power to shift conversations to become more student-centered, to take more diverse approaches to student issues as needed. … When issues like affordability, diversity, mental health, housing, food insecurity and student loan debt are on the table, it affects students of different academic levels and backgrounds differently.”
Fabella commented that the proposal stands a fair chance of passing because it is considered a safer alternative to adding another student regent position.
“A student advisor is a more conservative proposal the board is probably more comfortable with compared to another student with voting power,” Fabella said. “There are many supporters on the board such as Regent Perez, Lozano, Reiss and even President Napolitano herself.”
Sabo cautioned students from becoming overly complacent and not fighting for more significant representation.
“This is a good short-term solution, but we have to be leery of the fact that administrators often do the most little work for student representation without conceding too much ground,” he said. “This is a non-voting position, and it’s important we keep our eye on the prize in terms of voting representation. We have to change the California Constitution, which is a very far-off, long-term goal.”