Fate of student adviser position to be decided at Wednesday’s Board of Regents meeting

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The University of California Student Association, or UCSA, is encouraging the UC Board of Regents to eliminate the student adviser position, stated in a letter released Sunday.

The letter comes days before the Jan. 16 and 17 regents meetings, where the student adviser position — which provides the board with student input on UC issues including sexual assault policy, tuition and basic needs — will be eliminated if not renewed by regents members.

The student adviser position was started in 2016 as a two-year pilot role to give voice to underrepresented student populations on the board, which currently has one voting student regent. The student adviser is selected by students, UC administrators and regents, and holds a one-year term as a nonvoting advisor to the regents.

For the past two years, both advisers have represented undergraduate students due to graduate students filling the student regent seat.

“It’s 100 percent symbolic and it has not given students that additional seat at the table which is what we wanted to have,” said UCSA President Caroline Siegel-Singh. “We were thrown a bone and we took it and realized this is not we wanted.”

In response to the recommendation to eliminate — or “sunset” — the position, student adviser Edward Huang, a UC Berkeley senior, released a response Monday claiming that the UCSA had a political motive behind the decision.

In his laundry list of justifications for this belief, he includes closed-door meetings and withdrawn support. Huang alleges that the UCSA is motivated to consolidate more board-influencing positions under its purview, as the student adviser is one of three out of the fourteen students who have formal roles with the board not associated with UCSA.

“From the events of the past weeks and months, I am forced to conclude that UCSA has been strikingly unreliable and secretive on this issue and are not fit to be the sole voice of the students on the matter,” Huang said in his statement.

Siegel-Singh, also the Vice President of External Affairs at UC San Diego, combatted Huang’s claims. Siegel-Singh claimed that Huang misrepresented the UCSA.

“The fact that we haven’t seen that with this role is shocking,” Siegel-Singh said.

As an alternative to the adviser, the UCSA — comprised of members of associated student organizations from all UC campuses that work to represent students at the UC level — proposed appointing the UCSA president as a permanent Student Advocate to the Regent, or StAR, and adopting more student observers for every regent committee. Both StARs and student observers are selected by the UCSA to advocate for student priorities toward regents — StARs during regent meetings and observers in committees.

Adding both positions would bolster student voices among regents’ decision-making, according to Siegel-Singh, who sees the student adviser as tractionless. She added that StARs and student observers had been effective in shaping Title IX policy.

The future of the adviser role will either be renewed or left to lapse during this week’s Board of Regents meetings. The possibility of extending the student adviser position will be discussed as an action item at Wednesday’s meeting.

Contact Brandon Yung at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @brandonyung1.