UC Santa Barbara graduate student Jamaal Muwwakkil was nominated for the position of UC student regent for the 2020-21 school year Wednesday.
Muwwakkil, who was one of 113 students to apply for the position, was nominated by UC campuses’ student body presidents, the UC Student Association and a special committee of the UC Board of Regents. His nomination for 46th student regent will be voted on by the full regents board at its July 17 meeting.
“As a first-generation graduate student of color, there are always issues that demand your attention,” Muwwakkil said. “I hope to strengthen connections between students and the regents, and being student regent means I can act as that bridge.”
Muwwakkil added that he applied to the position with hopes of concentrating his advocacy in the most effective way he thought he could. He said he sometimes finds his advocacy work to be draining when combined with his other responsibilities as a graduate student and that his work as a student regent would allow him to have the biggest impact.
Muwwakkil studies linguistics at UC Santa Barbara and has served as the president of the Black Graduate Student Association. According to one of Muwwakkil’s faculty advisers, Anne Charity Hudley, Muwwakkil has also worked as a teacher’s assistant and plays an important role in recruiting other students of color to UC Santa Barbara’s linguistics programs.
According to faculty adviser and UC Santa Barbara linguistics department chair Mary Bucholtz, Muwwakkil’s nomination signifies the “changing nature” of the UC system to be more receptive to underserved students.
“Jamaal is the ideal representative for UC students, and especially those who are, like himself, first-generation college students, transfers from community colleges, nontraditional students, and members of underrepresented groups,” Bucholtz said in an email. “We need more visionary, energetic, and passionate intellectual leaders like Jamaal in the UC system.”
If approved, Muwwakkil’s term would begin in July 2020 and would follow that of UC San Diego graduate student Hayley Weddle, who will be serving as student regent for the upcoming academic year. According to Muwwakkil, he will be touring all the UC campuses with Weddle.
According to UC Office of the President spokesperson Sarah McBride, no nominee for student regent has ever been rejected by the board in the past.
“Jamaal is a visible and well-regarded figure on UCSB’s campus, commonly asked by the graduate division and campus organization to speak on panels and participate in recruitment events,” Charity Hudley said. “I am impressed by the ways in which Jamaal incorporates his lived experience as a community college transfer student of color into his work and co-curricular activities.”