UC student regents hold open forum to meet students

Rachael Garner/Staff
Student Regent Sadia Saifuddin speaks during the informational session Tuesday evening in Anthony Hall. The student-regent designate and Saifuddin discussed applying to be student regent.

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The UC student regent and student regent-designate held an information session on campus Tuesday evening to explain their goals for the year, meet students and discuss the application process for the position.

Sadia Saifuddin, the 2014-15 student regent and a UC Berkeley fifth-year student, has voting power on the UC Board of Regents. UCLA senior Avi Oved is the student regent-designate and will have a vote during the 2015-16 school year. As part of a tour of the 10 UC campuses, the regents have been holding open forums to recruit students for the position.

The student regents began with a presentation about their work, outlining UC-wide issues in addition to their own areas of focus, before taking questions from the students.

The main issues discussed at the information session were tuition increases and Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed cost-cutting measures, the exploitation of out-of-state students, sexual assault and mental health, food security and increasing student representation among the regents.

“I want to give back,” Saifuddin said when asked why she applied for the job. “It has by no means been easy for my family to get to where they are now, and education has been a huge part of that.”

Oved began with a discussion of the governor’s cost cutting proposals, saying the recommended increase in enrollment would lower the quality of education and turn the UC system into a “factory.”

“There’s a huge difference between the governor’s vision of the UC versus the UC’s vision of the UC,” Oved said.

Saifuddin said in an email that Oved reached out to the university’s State Government Relations Office to get more information on their lobbying efforts within California. Oved said that their work was “underwhelming” and that he would help reshape their talking points to make their efforts against Brown’s recommendations more effective.

In the meeting, Saifuddin also discussed the new $40 student service fee, which will increase the number of psychologists on UC campuses, and said she is working with the regents’ sexual assault task force to make sure the same resources are available at all campuses. Saifuddin said UC Berkeley only recently hired a confidential care advocate, a professional who provides confidential support for victims and helps them through any legal processes of their case.

Saifuddin also brought up food security efforts, including establishing food pantries, creating emergency relief funds and developing student gardens.

Sheena Paul, a campus sophomore and member of the ASUC Sexual Assault Commission, said she thought Saifuddin has been a good advocate for students across campuses, especially for survivors of sexual assault.

Campus freshman Zhara Abadin felt the regents’ personal projects were well thought out and said she thought their presentation was inspiring.

“I definitely see why they do it,” Abadin said.

Contact Frances Fitzgerald at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @f_fitzgerald325.