Jonathan Stein already has one specific goal in mind should he assume the position of Student Regent-Designate starting in July — be accessible.
Selected from a pool of 56 applicants from all 10 UC campuses in a process that took five months and three sets of interviews, Stein — a graduate student at both the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy and the UC Berkeley School of Law — said he wants to be the strongest advocate possible for the UC system and for students not only in Sacramento but “frankly anywhere (he) is needed.”
“I think it’s really important that students put pressure on every point — the (UC Board of) Regents, Sacramento, the federal government and the campus administration,” he said. “They have to create a ruckus at every level in every way if they are going to succeed in defending their own interests. I plan on making myself totally accessible to students at every campus — both undergraduates and graduates. I want them to feel like they can find me via Facebook, Twitter, phone or email at any time. I want them to know I am a conduit of their feelings.”
In addition to using the Internet to stay connected, Stein said that should he receive adequate funding, he plans to hold regular social media forums in different parts of the state so students can express their ideas or concerns regarding the state of the university system or to address specific concerns about their respective campuses.
Stein, who graduated from Harvard University in 2005 before heading to Mother Jones to become a reporter and campaign correspondent in the 2008 presidential election, was nominated for the student regent-designate position May 16 by a subcommittee of the board that specifically focuses on interviewing and approving student regents.
“His resume is really quite impressive,” said UC spokesperson Dianne Klein. “He’s doing like 85,000 things at once, and this process is very akin to a job interview. With this selection, the regents looks for the person who is the best fit and has the most to offer.”
Among those on the selection committee was Alfredo Mireles Jr., the new student regent who recently replaced Jesse Cheng following Cheng’s controversial and early exit from the position.
Mireles, who went through the process of being selected as the student regent-designate last year, said Stein handled the interviews well, as more than 50 people ultimately have a say in who they feel is the best candidate for the job.
“I think people were impressed by how particular he was and how passionate and thoughtful he is,” he said. “He is very knowledgeable and was well-prepared throughout the process. He was even quoting Regents from previous meetings. He clearly has done his homework.”
Stein will work closely with Mireles in the coming year, should his nomination for the position be confirmed at the July board meeting. Mireles said he and Stein have already gotten a jump start on working together, having met a few times to discuss Stein’s ideas for the position.
According to Mireles, Stein has “some really interesting ideas,” and “he has the intellectual capacity to really understand the challenges of the position and the breadth of the issues that will be discussed.”
For Stein, the nomination is another step to being able to fight for his passions — financial aid and affordable higher education. Stein, whose mother came to the United States from India on a scholarship his uncle won while at university, said one financial aid opportunity can make the difference for a student who wishes to pursue a higher education degree and a better life, as it did for his family.
“I exist because of educational opportunity,” he said. “I want to make it clear to the regents that raising fees again is only acceptable after we’ve used every cost-saving option and we’ve explored every possible new out-of-the-box revenue source. “The most amazing thing about the UC is that we educate more low-income students and more Pell Grant students, and we are at a make-or-break point to be able to continue to give educational opportunities to people.”
Katie Nelson is an assistant news editor.