Huerta contrasts regents’ inaccessibility

    The UC Student Association has called on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to appoint Delores Huerta to serve a full 12-year term as a regent, following her successful six-month stint as interim regent. The seat of former regent Haim Saban, open because he resigned after his poor attendence record at UC Board of Regents meetings was exposed, would be filled most appropriately by Huerta.

    The UC Board of Regents — that nebulous collection of powers-that-be to whom we write all our checks, and whose mandates rule our calendars, course selections and pocketbooks — is composed of 26 voting members. Eighteen regents are appointed by the California governor to 12-year terms; one student regent serves for a year; and several state officials, among others, serve as ex-oficio regents.

    Prior to her temporary appointment to the board, Huerta, who former Gov. Gray Davis appointed to temporarily fill an empty seat, was best known for her activist work with Cesar Chavez; together, the two founded the United Farm Workers Union. During her time on the board, Huerta was known for her support of students and minorities.

    “I’ll bring the perspective of working people, women and people of color to the board,” Huerta said in September 2003, upon her appointment as a temporary regent. “It may be a perspective that hasn’t been widely represented.”

    Huerta has charmed the UCSA by revealing ideals remarkably similar to those of students attending UC schools. For example, Huerta supported student protests during the budget cuts. She has been vocal about her disapproval of turning back applications from qualified junior college transfers, remarking that accepting in-state applications should be a UC priority.

    Perhaps Huerta’s sympathy stems from her background, for she is one of very few regents to have attended a UC school. Additionally, Huerta is one of very few regents to come from an underprivileged background. Saban, in contrast, is the father of Fox Family Worldwide and Saban Entertainment, whose brainchild was “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.” Regent Sherry Lansing works with the university in her spare time; generally, she’s busy with her position as the chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures. Regent John Moores owns the San Diego Padres. Financially, the vast majority of the regents are eons away from the average UC student. The fate of a public education system should not rest solely in the hands of individuals who have so little in common with those they serve.

    Huerta’s official appointment would be a big step in opening the process of selecting regents and making the regents more accessible.

    “Traditionally, the regent appointment process is closed, and that is something we’d like to see changed,” said Jennifer Lilla, UCSA president. “[With a] more balanced process … it could be a very different Board of Regents.”

    If Schwarzenegger chooses to appoint Huerta to serve a full term, a clear message will be sent to the public: The government has the students’ concerns and best interests in mind and is open to feedback regarding public education. In so doing, he will also take a critical step toward building diversity on the UC Board of Regents.

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