Though the Office of Student Conduct found Cheng guilty on March 10, he has emphasized his innocence even in light of his resignation this Monday. But while we may never know if the charges are true, Cheng’s resignation — and acknowledgement of the effect the charges have had on his performance — shows his respect for the gravity of the position.
With Student Regent-designate Alfredo Mireles Jr. taking his place immediately, the position can now be filled by someone who isn’t distracted by legal woes, and who still has the full faith of his constituents — something Cheng lost in light of the accusations against him. Though the regents declined to intervene in the “personal matter,” students organized the statewide “Justice for Laya Coalition” to hold protests and meetings across the UC system and ask top-level administration to hold Cheng accountable for his actions.
Cheng should be commended for ensuring that Mireles can become a voting member immediately without a lame-duck period in which there would be no student representation on the board. He had thought about resigning earlier, but waited to resolve the logistics and make sure the position will be in good hands.
With the UC system struggling through a budget crisis — including a minimum $500-million cut next year — the Student Regent position is more important than ever. Two years ago, then-Student Regent Jesse Bernal was the sole dissenting vote against the 32-percent fee hike; Cheng voted against this year’s 8-percent hike as well.
This crucial position, and its holder, represent one of the few concrete ways students can express their concerns to the UC governing board, and the position needs to be filled by someone who can devote his or her full attention to the important issues at hand and who the students are able to work with.