GSA resolves to support Huerta

    The Graduate Student Association issued a resolution Feb. 23 urging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to reappoint UC Regent and prominent labor activist Dolores Huerta for a full 12-year term to the UC Board of Regents.

    Huerta was appointed by former Gov. Gray Davis in September 2003 to replace Regent Norman Pattiz and to serve the remaining six months of his term. Huerta’s term expired on March 1.

    “The GSA passed this resolution because in the last six months, Regent Huerta has been one of the most open and accessible advocates for students on the Board of Regents,” said Heather Flowe, GSA vice president of academic affairs.

    The GSA argues in its resolution that within her short term as a Regent, Huerta “has gained the respect and admiration of many students and peers within the University of California.” According to Flowe, Huerta has been very accessible to students at Board of Regents meetings. Last November, Huerta was one out of four Regents who addressed students that were holding a rally outside a Regents meeting to protest university fee increases.

    “Huerta represents UC students, present and future, who do not want their fees to be increased, financial aid rolled back or to see enrollments decreased,” Flowe said.

    Huerta is also known for her experience as a labor and farm workers activist. In 1955, she was a co-founder of the Stockton. Calif. chapter of the Community Service Organization, a grassroots organization that combated social injustices and pushed for improved public services. She worked with union leader Cesar Chavez to form the National Farm Workers Association in 1962, which has since become the United Farm Workers of America.

    Through her work at UFW, Huerta has represented farmers and their families throughout the San Joaquin Valley. She has recruited workers, organized strikes and negotiated contracts on behalf of laborers. She has also been honored with numerous awards, including the American Civil Liberties Union Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty.

    According to the GSA resolution, Huerta “has dedicated her life to the fight for equal representation and rights of all Californians,” and can bring “a unique and important voice to issues affecting the quality, affordability and accessibility” of the university.

    Members of the GSA also believe that as a woman of color, Huerta will give certain racial groups more of a voice on the board.

    “As a woman of color, [Huerta] represents a large segment of California’s population and embodies the hope that the body of UC students will one day be more reflective of the state as a whole in terms of its racial and socioeconomic composition,” Flowe said.

    Thus, the GSA resolution states that Huerta’s experience with activism combined with her racial and social background put her in a good position to represent immigrant, first generation and low-income students.

    “The unique thing about [Huerta] is that she’s the only Regent who represents the San Joaquin Valley, low-income families and people of color,” said Camila Chavez, executive director of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, a foundation Huerta started to train grassroots activists.

    In passing the resolution, the GSA has affirmed its decision to support Huerta as a Regent and hopes that the governor will reappoint her.

    “[Huerta’s] reappointment as Regent would allow her to continue being a role model to those who strive for higher education and better employment,” GSA president Eric Frechette said.

    According to Chavez, over 3,000 letters supporting Huerta have been sent to the governor and the campaign appears promising.

    “This whole campaign has shown that the students are behind Huerta, and that’s the important thing because that’s who she’s representing on the board,” Chavez said.

    The UC Board of Regents consists of 18 regents who are appointed by the governor, seven ex-officio members and a student regent.

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