In response to concerns that students were not properly involved in the selection of Janet Napolitano as UC president, a bill in support of adding student voice to the hiring process for top UC officials was introduced to the ASUC Senate on Wednesday.
Authored by Student Action Senator Pavan Upadhyayula and his legislative director, Kris Nalla, the bill, SB 49, expresses support for a UC Student Association resolution that proposes improving the transparency of the UC president selection process and expanding the role of a student committee that advises the regents during the process.
According to the UC Policy on Appointment of the President of the University, students may get involved in the selection process through the Student Advisory Committee, which consists of at least one student from each UC campus, and through the student regent.
But student input does not extend much further. Student Regent-designate Sadia Saifuddin said this is, at least partially, to protect the privacy of potential candidates.
“Most qualified applicants would only apply given that confidentiality is guaranteed,” Saifuddin said. “So it’s difficult to make it a completely open process and reveal the identities of the applicants. There currently is student input, but it’s debatable whether it’s enough.”
UC spokesperson Steve Montiel explained that the UC Regents lead the selection process because the UC president answers directly to them. He added that the chancellor of each campus typically handles student affairs more directly than the UC president.
“The president not only runs the educational enterprise but also the medical schools and services and other facilities,” Montiel said. “And the president reports directly to the regents.”
SB 49 argues that the covert nature of the selection of high-level UC officials is not an excuse to exclude students from participation.
By working with the UCSA, Upadhyayula hopes to increase the likelihood that policy reforms are enacted that will result in more opportunities for students to get more involved in the selection process. He hopes reviewing the selection process will ensure that “all levels of administration are held accountable.”
If the bill is passed by the ASUC Senate, ASUC External Affairs Vice President Safeena Mecklai will create a commission of students on campus to examine the selection process, review the UCSA proposal and submit a report of their findings to the regents by the end of the academic year.
“The way the UC president is elected is a long-term issue,” Mecklai said. “I don’t want the UC faced with another case in the future 10 years from now where students don’t feel that they had involvement in the decision.”
SB 49 will be reviewed in the ASUC Senate’s university and external affairs committee Monday.