Student Regent Resigns Due to “Personal Reasons”

Student Regent Jesse Cheng, who has served since July 2010, resigned from his position on Monday, May 16 due to “personal problems.”  UC Board of Regents Chairman Russel Gould released a statement the same day accepting Cheng’s resignation and announcing that Student Regent-designate Alfredo Mireles Jr. will assume a voting position, effective immediately.

In an open letter posted on the UC Regents blog on May 16, Cheng said that the accusation made against him was becoming a distraction in the Board of Regents. He spoke more on this matter in an interview with the Guardian.

“If I stayed [as] the Student Regent, I’d pretty much be a lame duck,” Cheng said. “And there’s no point in having a lame duck [as a] Student Regent.”

Cheng was arrested on Nov. 4, 2010 after an anonymous 22-year-old UCLA Law School student, “Laya,” accused him of having sexually assaulted her on Oct. 3, 2010. Criminal charges were initially dropped due to lack of evidence until Laya provided e-mail evidence in which Cheng, her former partner, apologized for attempting to rape her. Cheng explained that he sent the e-mail because she constantly made disruptive phone calls to him.

“[The phone calls] were extremely disruptive and I was extremely stressed out,” Cheng wrote in a public statement. “So I lied in the e-mails to do whatever I could to move forward with my life.”

Cheng emphasized his innocence in the sexual assault case, but the Office of Student Conduct determined on March 10 that Cheng was responsible for unwanted touching of his former girlfriend and denied his appeal. As the Office of Student Conduct is not a court of law, this was not a legal decision.

In the open letter, Cheng expressed his regret for being unable to complete his service to the UC community.

“My main focus and motivation has always been for students to feel that they have a full and powerful voice on the Board of Regents,” Cheng wrote in the letter. “Seeing how it will be my last meeting as a Student Regent, and how much of a distraction from other serious student issues that this issue has continued to cause, I think it would be best for the students and the University of California if I step down at this time.”

Cheng stated in the interview with the Guardian that he waited to resign until he was sure Mireles would be able to step into his position and have a vote immediately.

“This past week, we kind of got all our goals and issues either accomplished or out of the way, and we confirmed that Alfredo would get a vote after I left,” Cheng said. “Then I felt much better about resigning, and I was able to resign this past week.”

He added that he didn’t want to resign without accomplishing the projects on the Board of Regents’ agenda.

Cheng stated that he plans on focusing on graduating June of this year.

“For me, this is a time to focus on my academic career again, focus on graduation, focus on my family and be a student,” Cheng said.

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