Edward Huang, a rising UC Berkeley senior and applied mathematics major, has been vetted and selected by students, UC administrators and regents to be the 2018-19 student advisor to the UC Board of Regents.
The student advisor position is intended to broaden student representation on the Board of Regents by providing a perspective relevant to communities that are not already represented by the student regent, who is the only voting student member of the board. The position, which has only existed for one year, will be reviewed after Huang’s term to determine whether the program should continue.
“I was a little surprised that they chose someone with more of a STEM background than a public policy background,” Huang said.
Huang has served as both treasurer and vice president of the Cal Hiking and Outdoor Society, or CHAOS. He is also involved with Berkeley Student Cooperative, where he began serving as maintenance manager of Davis House in spring 2018.
Rafael Sands, a recently graduated business economics and political science student from UCLA, was the first to serve as student advisor and said advisory positions such as this require relationship-building and communication skills, which can be subtle and highly detailed. Sands was part of the selection committee that chose Huang as his successor.
“Edward is a very good listener; he knows when to speak and how to speak, and he is very inquisitive,” Sands said. “Knowing how to use your voice effectively is so important. This is a unique position that has a lot (of) power if you can use your voice in the right way.”
As a STEM major, Huang said in an email that he gravitates toward quantitative analysis when looking at policy issues. He added that the scientific process is a reliable methodology because it forces people to question how they know what they know and to only use information that has an evidentiary basis — a method of thought he plans to use in the advisory process.
Huang said his involvement with CHAOS gave him administrative experience, as he made decisions that took into account up to 1,000 members. The club is about building community, having fun and reducing stress, according to Huang, as well as good stewardship exemplified by wilderness practices such as “leave no trace.”
Student Regent Devon Graves said he agrees with Sands in that although there is only one voting student member on the board, the positions are about access to information and communicating with board members.
“Students are the best messengers for communicating advocacy needs,” Graves said.
Graves also said Sands established the position’s value by building student advocacy at the state and federal level, and that joint advocacy between students, the student regent and the student advisor played a role in this year’s increased state funding and prevented an in-state tuition increase.
“I am really excited to be a part of this collaborative decision-making process, and I hope that I can increase student representation on the board,” Huang said. “I know there will be many difficult decisions this year, and I am prepared to make those decisions for the benefit of the school community.”