When the UC Board of Regents has an opportunity to improve its serious lack of student representation, it should not forgo that chance. At issue is the creation of a new student adviser position, which would mark an important, though incomplete, step toward a more equitable, transparent Board of Regents.
We need another student voice on a board dominated by business executives and investors.
The 2014 proposed tuition increase plan is a clear example of students feeling blindsided by decisions made without their input, and it confirms the need for increased representation. Students should have every avenue to give input on issues that concern them, especially as dwindling state funding and ballooning administrative salaries strain the UC budget.
The student adviser position allows for the amplification of student views on the largely out-of-touch Board of Regents. In serving as an advisory member of the board, the student adviser would substantially broaden the scope of the student experience represented in the board’s decisions. Additionally, the proposal ensures that both graduate and undergraduate perspectives are present on the board.
Yet, without voting powers, the student adviser would struggle to hold the influence and power necessary to successfully advocate every student need to the regents. As such, it runs the risk of becoming a hollow, symbolic gesture meant to appease students without enacting substantive change in the form of a second student regent, who would have full voting privileges on the board.
The addition of a second student regent requires a constitutional amendment requiring approval from the public. The creation of the student adviser position, by comparison, is mostly an internal process lacking the financial burden and time-consuming nature of a full-fledged campaign to amend the California constitution. Though this does not change the urgent need for a second student regent, it does suggest that the adviser position is the fastest way to boost representation in the short term while advocates continue to fight for another vote.
When Student Regent Avi Oved first proposed the plan for a student adviser, it was not seen as a stand-alone effort: He and others who backed the proposal intended for it to lead to a referendum campaign creating a second student regent. Whoever holds the adviser position would be uniquely placed to work with the UC Student Association and the student regent toward constitutional change. That this goal remains at the forefront of the student adviser’s mind is essential to the productivity and relevance of the position.
The regents would be remiss to reject this common-sense proposal to have more student voices playing a part in their decision-making process. Yet, we ought not accept this as an end-all solution to the dearth of student power in the UC system’s governance.