To welcome the new University of California Student Regent, Matt Murray, the Cross Cultural Center hosted an open forum discussion on Oct. 15, giving UCI students and faculty an opportunity to converse with Murray, who was appointed this past July.
As a sitting member of the UC Board of Regents, one of Murray’s jobs is to vote on UC related issues and policies brought forth by the board.
According to Marti Barmore, the UCI student regent recruitment coordinator, some of the responsibilities and duties of a UC Student Regent include the supervision of university finances and investments, along with overseeing the appointments of university officers throughout the 10 UC campuses.
Murray’s primary concern for the upcoming year is UC’s current budget woes.
‘My goals would be to have as little a cut of state funding as possible, so that’s working with the legislature and the governor, the new governor. And then after the state decides its cuts, attempting to make them as least painful as possible,’ Murray said.
Murray is unsure of what direction the UC system will take for the upcoming year.
‘The question that everyone in the university is very anxious to find out is what does Governor Schwarzenegger mean for the university. What will he do?’ Murray was quick to add, ‘I am very hard pressed to come up with any sort of educated guess because he hasn’t said very much about specific policies.’
Murray would also like to see university policy protect same-sex relationships.
‘The state just passed a domestic partner bill that basically gives the same benefits to domestic partners and spouses so I think the university should do the same thing,’ Murray said.
Murray said UC policy should protect those ‘people who don’t fit into society’s norms of gender.’
Another strong issue for Murray is the architecture of the UC system. Murray would like to see a more energy-efficient environmentally friendly university.
‘This summer, the university passed a green building and clean energy policy, which was the first one that it has done and one of the best ones in the country as far as universities go,’ Murray said. ‘I was involved in helping that along.’
Murray would also like to insure that the admissions process remain as fair and equitable as possible.
‘[I am] very much a proponent of looking at the entire applicant and not basing decisions on just one or two criteria and I want to be involved in insuring that it stays that way,’ Murray said.
The new student regent said he will apply his leadership experience to his new position. Murray noted that during his freshman year he was a co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union at Berkeley.
His leadership experience at the Berkeley ACLU interested him in other university activities.
Murray also encourages students to get involved on campus.
‘I would encourage people from Irvine to apply to the student regent position when the applications come out in February,’ Murray added. ‘You have got to get involved in student groups or community organizing or student government or the academic senate as early as you can. Get involved with things outside of class.’
During the open forum discussion Murray talked with UCI students and faculty about the College Republicans’ bake sale controversy, the recent TA strike, importance of academic freedom and the continuing support of the UC school system.
‘Education is the future of California,’ Murray said. ‘Many UC graduates are going to fulfill the leadership and business positions of the state, so it’s essential for the future of California that we support the school system.’
Forum attendee Carlos Feliciano, a second-year criminology major, who is also the ASUCI legislative liaison officer, explained the magnitude and importance of the challenges and responsibilities of being the student regent.
‘I see [Murray’s] primary responsibility as representing all students throughout the UC campuses, fighting for equity and access to the UC system and also maintaining the standard of excellence for the UC,’ Feliciano said.
Adeli Duron, a third-year Chicano/Latino studies major, believed that the meeting was very helpful to her understanding of the UC Student Regent position.
‘[The meeting] helped me understand what he does, what he can do and the power that he does have to represent us,’ Duron said.