New advisor position is a victory for student representation in the UC

William Pan/Staff

UC Regent Chairman Monica Lozano understands just how impactful the Student Regent and Student Regent-designate are on the governing board of one of the most prestigious universities in the country.

Fitting, given that beginning next year, she’ll see a new student seat at the table.

The student adviser, a seat created by the recent passage of Student Regent Avi Oved’s Student Advisor Proposal, will further advocate for student issues in the committees and at the table of the UC Board of Regents.

A proposal to add an additional student regent with voting rights to the Board of Regents was initially considered by Oved, but he quickly realized that a nonvoting adviser would be a more pragmatic and immediate approach to benefit both students and the regents. Working closely with students and regents from across the system, Oved constructed a concise, results-oriented proposal that was brought to the table and met with nearly universal acclaim.

“The way you’ve changed it in response to some conversations and meetings you’ve had with us has been very well done. I intend to vote yes and I urge my fellow regents to do the same,” lauded President Janet Napolitano, echoing the words of the regents before her.

Oved realized that a campaign for a seat with voting power would require millions of dollars and several years’ time, causing him to seek an adviser position to respond to students’ immediate needs. In the more than 40-year history of the student regent, the voting aspect of the seat has been fairly trivial on the board, given that the single vote is mostly shrouded by the 25 others around it. It’s difficult for the vote to enact change when, for instance, the regents are voting to raise tuition and one of the only “nay” votes is from the student regent.

Though the position’s lack of voting power — the fact that garnered the greatest amount of criticism from students throughout the UC system — may raise questions as to the effectiveness of the proposal, it’s important to note that from the regents’ perspective, a new voice is the best way for students to press their issues.

“Historically, the creation of the student regent was not a regent to represent the interests of the students. It was a regent who happened to be a student,” remarked Regent Norman Pattiz, acknowledging that though the initial intention of the student regent was not student advocacy, the enormously insightful presence that has been provided by student regents such as Oved has wholly validated calls for an additional seat. Pattiz endorsed the proposal, supporting increased student representation in the form of a nonvoting adviser.

The newly added student adviser comes at a crucial time for the students of the university. Facing the harsh realities of impending tuition hikes and insufficient housing, a student adviser opens new doors into regent committee meetings, some of which have heard few, if any, student voices in the past.

Many regents spoke passionately about the importance of having a representative of the students such as a student adviser in their meetings, as the presence of a student adds depth and perspective to discussions that oftentimes legislate student issues without ensuring thorough evaluation and input. The student adviser ensures a better chance at a holistic perspective on a consistent basis that will lead to more refined, directed legislation.

In addition, the creation of the student adviser follows that of the staff adviser, who has been a consistently active member on the board and provided essential input regarding staff and faculty matters. In fact, the Student Advisor Proposal itself inherits a nearly parallel operational structure to the staff adviser position.

The student adviser’s creation stands as a landmark moment for both student advocacy and student government. It displays that through consistent outreach, relentless perseverance and deep intuition, we, the students of the University of California, have articulated a much profounder presence on the board than could possibly have been predicted when the student regent position was created in 1974.

Hence, at a time when faith in student leaders and the effectiveness of student activism in real world politics are consistently questioned, the Student Advisor Proposal is a tangible sentiment that loudly proclaims just how important our student leaders really are.

We have #ONEMOREVOICE

Addison Lynch is the Creative Director of the Student Regent office and a UCLA sophomore.

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Correction(s):
The byline for a previous version of this op-ed incorrectly listed Arielle Swedback as the author. In fact, Addison Lynch authored this op-ed.