The UC Board of Regents continued its discussions of UC workgroups and staff conditions at its Thursday meeting and announced notable student awards.
Before the meeting, protesters convened outside at UCSF on Thursday morning to demand wage increases for frontline UC workers. Part of the AFSCME Local 3299 union, these workers called for a $25 per hour minimum wage. The group included members of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and San Francisco Labor Council.
“I have to commute over two hours each way to work and rely on my kids to help pay for my housing because UC’s wage rates are simply too low,” said Davina Woods, a UCLA custodian, in an email. “It’s past time for UC administrators to show they value the hard jobs we perform, so we can afford to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table, and gas in our cars.”
After a lengthy closed session meeting, the board’s open session began with a unanimous motion to take public comments before future closed meetings.
The following public comment period commenced with Unite Here Local 11 union members and community workers alleging unfair employment practices against Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort and Spa and other hotels owned by the UC Retirement Plan.
Union and community members raised concerns regarding unfair wages, inadequate health care coverage and allegations of racial discrimination in hiring permanent hotel staff.
“As a public institution, the UC should enshrine its commitment to the public good by negotiating a fair contract immediately and hiring the Black workers they hired to break the strike as permanent, union staff with stable and good employment,” said Unite Here Local 11 community organizer Mary Entoma during public comment. “We are demanding that we have your support.”
Additionally, students from across the UC campuses spoke on the implementation of the Opportunity for All Campaign, a student-led effort started in 2022 that advocated for employment access for undocumented students. In May 2023, Board of Regents Chair Richard Leib and UC President Michael Drake detailed a regents working group to address making job opportunities accessible to all students, “regardless of their immigration status.”
Undocumented student representatives expressed support for the campaign and urged the regents to integrate feedback from undocumented students and families, as well as devise an equitable implementation program.
After public comment, Drake announced the 2022-23 President’s Outstanding Students Awards, given to students for activism and public service. Award recipients were Abiel Malepeai, an undergraduate student at UC Davis, and Maribel Patiño, a graduate student at UC San Diego.
Regent Janet Reilly also awarded the Regents Foster Youth Award to UC Berkeley student and Berkeley Hope Scholars peer advisor Merina Smith for her work in foster youth community leadership.
Moreover, last week the regents announced the latest Student Regent appointment for the 2024-25 term. Josiah Beharry, a doctoral student in interdisciplinary humanities at UC Merced, became the 50th student to take on this position. Beharry will continue to advocate for underrepresented students in the role, noting in a UC Office of the President press release that he aims to “forge a collective path toward equity, justice and empowerment for all.”
The board then heard comments from student association representatives Alex Niles, president of the UC Student Association, and Ryan Manriquez, incoming president of the UC Graduate and Professional Council.
Both Niles and Manriquez discussed racial equity in university admissions following the nationwide affirmative action ban and the UC’s position as an acting example of a post-affirmative action world.
The representatives also brought up funding for disabled student programs and restorative justice for cases of bullying and sexual violence. Further, Manriquez voiced their support for the Opportunity for All campaign.
The board’s open session ended with an annual report from the Council of UC Staff Assemblies, or CUCSA, a representative advisory body for UC staff, that included updates on workgroups as well as causes of and solutions for staff retention issues.
Council representatives also introduced the new CUCSA board and goals including fair compensation and benefits for UC staff.
The day ended with committee reports from all committees regarding items discussed earlier in the week, followed by a closed board session.
Ananya Rupanagunta and Lily Button contributed to this report.