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UC Regents hear student concerns, discuss compact goals in last day of meetings

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The UC Board of Regents heard comments from student advocates and staff assembly members about various topics such as university housing policy for graduate students and resources for Black students.


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SEPTEMBER 25, 2023

Content warning: sexual assault 

The UC Board of Regents reconvened Thursday to discuss concerns regarding undergraduate and graduate students and long-term goals for the university.

During an open board session public comment period, UCLA students brought forth sexual violence and sexual assault advocates’ concerns.

They urged the university to increase student access to sexual assault forensic examinations and proposed adding student rape test kits to University Health Services locations to mitigate barriers of access, citing a 72-hour threshold for the collection of such evidence to be viable for legal claims.

Graduate students also advocated for a UC Office of the President, or UCOP, endowment for Black retention and recruitment efforts and spoke to the broader affordable housing needs of graduate students.

Several members of the Council of UC Staff Assemblies, or CUCSA, also urged for changes in policy-covered staff wages to reflect rising costs of inflation.

According to UC Irvine representative and staff assembly member Gretchen Verdugo, while the inflation rate was 7% in 2021 and 6.4% in 2022, policy-covered staff saw wage increases of less than 5%.

“The buying power has shrunk,” Verdugo said during public comment. “In the face of rising rent, utilities, insurance, pension contributions and other expenses we are struggling to make ends meet.”

Following public comment, Celene Aridin, president of the UC Student Association, echoed support for the UCOP endowment fund.

Aridin noted the lack of sufficient resources and gathering spaces for Black students on campus and low rates of Black student enrollment across all UC campuses.

“UC students are encouraging other Black students not to apply due to the lack of opportunities, resources and support on our campuses,” Aridin said.

Afterward, President of the UC Graduate and Professional Council Ryan Manriquez, a campus graduate student, spoke to campus housing’s dearth of facilities for the emergency evacuation of disabled students.

As a wheelchair-assisted individual, Manriquez expressed their own “fear” upon realizing they had no way to evacuate their residence.

To address these issues, Manriquez advocated for more community-centered discussions on housing development that included diverse and disabled student voices.

During the joint meeting of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee and the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee, the university’s long-term workforce outcome goals were outlined and discussed.

The multi-year compact’s overarching goals hope to emphasize STEM and education majors across campuses as well as prepare students for careers in high-need disciplines such as healthcare, climate action and education.

The session concluded with Regents noting that the UC system is “on track” to meet its graduate enrollment goals and support workforce needs across the state.

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SEPTEMBER 25, 2023