Students raise concerns over diversity of UC Board of Regents after latest appointment

Pie chart showing distribution of UC regents by race
Ariel Lung/Staff

Related Posts

A few days before the end of former California Gov. Jerry Brown’s term, Brown appointed Jonathan “Jay” Sures to the UC Board of Regents, resulting in student pushback to the lack of diversity on the board.

Students have voiced concern about whether the board accurately represents students on UC campuses in light of the recent appointment of another white male to the predominantly white board. With the addition of Sures, the UC Board of Regents consists of 11 white members, four Latinx members, three Black members and one Asian American.

“Out of the 18-governor-appointed Regents, there are 8 white men and 3 white women,” Sarah Abdeshahian, the ASUC Office of the External Affairs Vice President’s, or EAVP, campus organizing director, said in an email. “For perspective, 24% of UC students are white, 21% Hispanic/Latinx, and 4% are African American.”

Sures, a UCLA graduate and current co-president of United Talent Agency, was appointed Jan. 4 and his term will end March 1, 2020 unless he is reappointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

As the governing board of the UC system, the UC Board of Regents manages administrative and financial decisions within the UC system. These decisions include supervising educational initiatives, appointing campus chancellors and allocating funds across the UC system.

The majority of the board is appointed by the nomination of the governor of California and confirmation by the California Senate to 12-year terms. Historically, governor-appointed regents have consisted of lawyers, politicians and businessmen.

“I think that this appointment is interesting because it does not significantly increase the diversity of the board,” Nuha Khalfay, the ASUC EAVP, said in an email. “By diversity I include ethnicity and gender but also geographic representation.”

Khalfay also added that the board is disproportionate since it consists of residents from Southern California and the Bay Area, lacking Central Valley representation.

About 42 percent of the board is composed of white appointees while only 22 percent of enrolled undergraduates are white. UC student enrollment is also 52 percent female, but only 35 percent of the Board of Regents are female.

“I think the board needs to be diversified in every possible way. We need to see regents who have spent their lives dedicated to education, not more businesspeople,” Khalfay said in an email. “I hope that Governor Newsom will push the board in the right direction in terms of all of these aspects of diversity.”

Devon Graves, the 2018-19 student regent and a graduate student at UCLA, said in an email that he hopes with future vacancies on the board that Governor Newsom will take geographic and ethnic diversity into consideration when considering appointments.

Hayley Weddle, who is the 2018-19 student regent-designate and the 2019-20 student regent, expressed similar thoughts on diversity.

“I believe it is important for the board of regents to be reflective of the communities the UC serves. … Not only race, but also gender, sexual orientation, geographic location, and socioeconomic status,” Weddle said in an email.

Contact Thao Nguyen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @tnguyen_dc.