UC Board of Regents discuss diversity, equity at final meeting of September

Sam Albillo/Staff

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The UC Board of Regents met for the last day of its September meeting on Thursday, discussing diversity and equity initiatives, among other topics.

Varsha Sarveshwar, the ASUC external affairs vice president and UC Student Association, or UCSA, president opened the meeting with a speech on behalf of the UCSA, which represents undergraduates in the UC system and advocates for increasing the UC’s accessibility, affordability and quality. She commended the board for divesting from fossil fuels and addressed the regents with her concerns about housing and funding.

She added that she is worried about the future capacity of student activists due to the UCSA’s low budget, compared to similar organizations from the California State University system and the California Community College system.

“We struggle to hold systemwide meetings and host conferences for our students,” Sarveshwar said at the meeting. “Instead of recruiting, retaining and supporting talented student leaders, our students frequently leave this work altogether because of severe burnout.”

The regents then moved into committee updates, which included discussions on the UC’s progress on diversity and capital improvements.

The UC’s Committee on Compliance and Audit also voted to approve a final list of requests for capital improvement priorities for the UC. The priorities will be sent to the state government, in accordance with AB 48 — which was passed by the California State Legislature — and will put a capital improvements funding measure on the ballot in March if signed by the California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The money from the bond will be used to address the seismic concerns across the UC campuses.

The board also discussed closing the UC system’s graduation gap, which disproportionately affects Pell Grant recipients and other underrepresented groups, according to a presentation given to the board. The regents discussed ways to achieve its goals of awarding 200,000 more degrees and investing in the “next generation of faculty and research” by 2030.

The regents had different ideas for the matter, including Regent-designate Debby Stegura’s idea to increase summer research opportunities across the UC system.

“It’s got many benefits because, as you know better than I, you have contact with faculty, you develop those relationships with faculty, especially if you are a transfer student,” Stegura said during the meeting. “If they do have those summer research opportunities, they do need methods of support.”

The regents also discussed the timeline for potentially eliminating the SAT and other standardized tests from the application process.

Several members of the board expressed their desire to speed up the timeline of the decision but the regents ultimately decided to wait for a recommendation from the UC Berkeley Academic Senate before voting on the matter.

“One thing we all know, we probably don’t need any more study or discussion of, is that the one thing that SAT scores predict better than anything else is your income,” said Regent Cecilia Estolano during the meeting. “We know what it can do and what it means and what it doesn’t mean.”

The regents decided to push its discussion of cohort-based tuition, which would adjust tuition rates by graduation year rather than for all students, to the November meeting. According to Regent Chair John Pérez, the regents will still have the opportunity to act on the measure in November.

Kate Finman is the lead Student Government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC.