University of California Student Regent Sadia Saifuddin and UC Student Regent Designate Abraham “Avi” Oved held an Open Forum in the Governance Chambers of Price Center on Jan. 28 to recruit students for the Student Regent position.
The UC Student Regent is one of the 26 voting members on the UC Board of Regents, representing the over 240,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students attending the University of California and whose purpose is to advocate access for diversity and quality of education.
Saifuddin explained how the recruitment for the position was more targeted in previous years.
”It’s [the Student Regent position] been kind of a mystical position for many years and not a lot of students know about it, and usually that’s just because recruitment efforts are either targeted or a little vague,” Saifuddin said. “This year we really want to increase our application numbers so we’ve been meeting with students all day as well as trying to do more recruitment through an open forum so we can have students come out, learn about the position and potentially apply or take this back to their communities.”
Applying to be a Student Regent is a process that takes four to five months and which requires a personal statement five to six pages long, an information form and three references. The completed application must be submitted by Feb. 22 and is followed by series of interviews.
Oved stated that anyone who is enrolled in the UC system and will be attending the University of California for the next two years is eligible to apply for the position, regardless of the student’s GPA or immigration status. In an interview with the UCSD Guardian, Oved discussed how there is no particular set of skills required to become a Student Regent.
“I know that when I was applying I was told that I didn’t have the right experience — or enough of it — and that I wouldn’t have a good chance at becoming a Student Regent because I was an undergrad. At the end of the day, there is no prescription; there is no cookie-cutter trajectory to become Student Regent,” Oved said. “At the end of the day, you only need to have passion, a vision and the skills to enact that vision. If you have that, then you are more than qualified to become a Student Regent, and that really is all you need. If you have that inkling, apply. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience, and I think Sadia can speak to that.”
For a year following the appointment in July, the Student Regent Designate shadows and is mentored by the current Student Regent. During the second of year of his or her term, he or she attains voting privileges and becomes the mentor for the incoming Student Regent Designate.
Saifuddin described how one of the roles of the Student Regent is to provide students with information that they might not otherwise have access to.
“That’s another really good part of this position. You have access to any kind of information you would like on the board that maybe the average student might not have access to,” Saifuddin said. “Our job is to get that information and provide that to students so that they can better organize on issues that they care about.”
Furthermore, the Student Regent ensures that students have a voice when policies concerning the University of California are being made. Students are a part of the entire screening process with the Regent Committee, interviewing the three candidates which student leaders across the UC system have selected during the application process and first two rounds of interviews. Also, Saifuddin stated that the regents are looking for someone who they can work with.
“I will say the regents are not looking for someone that agrees with them,” Saifuddin said. “I disagree with them on almost every single issue but it’s still important for them to be able to know that they can have a very positive working relationship with me, so that’s kind of what that last interview gauges.”
In addition to the application process, Saifuddin and Oved discussed how they are working to stop the tuition hike.
“Sadia and I reached out to the State Government Relations Office of the Office of the President to really see how they’re gonna move forward in the next five months in terms of our lobbying efforts, making sure that we’re on an effective trajectory and making sure that we are getting an investment,” Oved said “To be honest, we were very disappointed with the work that they forwarded to us. So we’re gonna be going and revamping the trajectory of the lobbying efforts, working with [UC Student Association], the Council of Presidents and the different student leadership across all 10 UC campuses to make sure that we do have a unified movement moving forward and that we are going to get the state investment.”
Saifuddin also talked about how a policy that is fair to out-of-state students is being developed.
“This [out-of-state tuition] is something that comes up really often about how we’re developing a policy that can be very equitable on out-of-state students while recognizing that the University of California was founded predominantly to serve the needs of Californians,” Saifuddin said. “Then again it’s not fair that, every time we have some kind of financial issue, to just rack up the fees on out-of-state students as if it’s a solution. So we’re kind of moving towards a policy that is equitable for both sides.”
Additionally, the Student Regent position enables students to complete a UC-wide project by the end of their terms. Saifuddin commented on how Student Regent initiatives have not been emphasized in recent years.
”In past years this hasn’t been talked about as often because, what has happened is, we’ve been dealing with crises one after the other so we’ve been more on the defensive than the offensive,” Saifuddin said. “But we’re hoping to really bring this back as a part of the culture of being a Student Regent. Of adopting some kind of project that you care about and really pursuing that initiative until the end.”
Student Regents are compensated in a variety of ways, including free tuition for the two years they serve, a parking pass that enables them to park anywhere on the ten UC campuses except the Chancellor and Nobel Laureate parking spaces, a travel budget, an office on their home campus and a stipend for a student staff.
However, Saifuddin told the Guardian that there are simpler ways to obtain the benefits of being a Student Regent.
“The position is hard, and if you’re looking for a line on the resume, there are easier ways,” Saifuddin said. “It’s a challenge, and the best kinds of candidates are the ones that care about the work they do. They renew their commitment and they renew their intentions for doing this work every single day.”
Following the presentation, Saifuddin and Oved had a question and answer session.