On May 22, UCLA senior Abraham (Avi) Oved was nominated as the 2015-16 student regent. If approved, Oved will serve as student regent-designate before being given the task of representing more than 240,000 undergraduates in the UC system as the singular student vote on the UC Board of Regents. Oved is an appropriate nominee and is focusing on admirable, if daunting, issues in his campaign platforms.
Oved proposes adding more student regent positions, aiming for a total of four, and including regents and regent-designates for both undergraduate and graduate students. Last year’s collaborative pilot program to add three student observers to regent committees has been useful to add student voices, but it is unlikely this goal can be achieved. Oved has his work cut out for him there, as this move would require a California state constitutional amendment.
An inveterate student politician, Oved has also added fixing the university’s broken and dangerous sexual assault policy to his list of platforms. On UC campuses, this is the issue of the moment; Oved has committed to UCLA’s 7000 in Solidarity Campaign, as well as collaborating with the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. But he should increase his collaboration with and connection to the pertinent student organizations that are already strongly engaged in this work on every UC campus. It would be advisable that he outline his benchmarks for this goal and detail in which way he can use his position on the board to ensure that student’s voices are heard. Oved should create a short deadline at which to show progress; three months would be ideal.
Not all of Oved’s platforms are so nebulous, however. He lists the badly outdated California Master Plan for Higher Education as an area of opportunity and connects it to a necessity for greater communications between the UC system, California State University and California Community Colleges System. This breakdown in communication and lack of a unified plan and vision is especially detrimental to transfer students, a group newly under the regents’ eye for improvements in circumstance. Oved can certainly lend a student’s perspective on the overhaul of the plan itself, as well as these relationships.
Oved’s plan to tour all the UC campuses and meet with student governments is laudable. But his comfort zone is clearly in student government. We urge him to make himself available to other organizations; student publications, gender equity resource centers, transfer students’ organizations and other less-heard groups. Oved must step out of the student government bubble in order to really represent these diverse student bodies.
With this appointment comes great visibility and responsibility, not just an opportunity to be glib and attached to the right causes. Oved must not just offer answers, but also show his work.