UC Board of Regents discusses Trump administration, undocumented students

Audrey McNamara/Senior Staff

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The UC Board of Regents convened Wednesday at UCSF Mission Bay for the first time this year, marking the first regents meeting held during President Donald Trump’s presidency.

Items discussed included the new position of a systemwide Title IX coordinator, the expansion of AB 540 nonresident tuition exemption, the protection of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, students and UC sustainable practices.

Prior to the meeting, an open session was held for public comment at 9 a.m. Though the public comment period was allotted 20 minutes, it did not conclude until 9:50 a.m. Among the various speakers was a stronghold of members from Teamsters Local 2010, the union representing 14,000 UC employees. The Teamsters’ last speaker, Secretary-Treasurer Jason Rabinowitz, urged the regents to grant UC workers contracts. According to Rabinowitz, 70 percent of university workers suffer from food insecurity.

“What do we want — contracts! When do we want — now! If we don’t get it, shut it down!” Teamsters chanted, as regents chair Monica Lozano attempted to end the public comment session. Police stationed themselves between the Teamsters and the regents, and the protesters began to exit the room, chanting, “No contracts! No peace!”

On Jan. 12, Kathleen Salvaty, former UCLA Title IX coordinator, was appointed to a systemwide version of the position, reporting directly to UC President Janet Napolitano.

“(The position is meant) to ensure policies on sexual violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment are implemented effectively and consistently, and all members of our UC community feel safe and respected,” Napolitano said in her opening remarks. “It’s all about a climate of respect. With progress also comes opportunities — everyday, at every campus.”

The Academic and Student Affairs Committee heard an update from the working group on undocumented members of the UC community that was established in November, the day after the presidential election. The work group’s first action was taken Nov. 30 when the university issued its Statement of Principles in Support of Undocumented Members of the UC Community.

UC Office of the President Deputy General Counsel Julia Friedlander spoke at the meeting on behalf of the working group. According to Friedlander, the work group’s four basic principles are that students will be admitted to the university based solely on merit, UCPD will work only to maintain student safety, the university will protect student privacy and UC medical centers will treat any patient regardless of documentation.

“When the university receives requests for records that implicate the privacy rights of individuals, the Office of General Counsel will work closely with our clients to protect the privacy of community members, as we are required to do — unless there is a countervailing law that requires us to make disclosures,” Friedlander said.

The future of undocumented UC students was also addressed by Lozano during her opening remarks.

“DACA students’ … actions have been entirely consistent with the university’s core values,” Lozano said.

Lozano added that the university will protect and support undocumented DACA students who may feel threatened with deportation.

“(Trump) has certain views on immigration, DACA. We are going to be opposite of him on many issues,” said regent George Kieffer.

Five UC Berkeley students attended Wednesday’s meeting to discuss the university’s investment in fossil fuel industries and the UC Retirement Plan, which holds bonds in two companies building on the Dakota Access Pipeline, with UC Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher.

The students questioned why the UC system has not completely divested from fossil fuels, while other similarly sized research universities, such as the University of Massachusetts and the University of Oregon, have done so.

“While the political climate has changed drastically, the commitment and actions of the university has not,” said DAPL protester and campus junior Camille Fassett.

The board will reconvene Thursday to vote on a new operating budget plan, which includes tuition hikes for in-state and out-of-state students.

Audrey McNamara is the lead higher education reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @McNamaraAud.