The University of California Board of Regents unanimously approved a student advisor position to their board during the Committee on Governance portion of the UC Regents meeting on Jan. 21 at UCSF.
The student advisor will serve as an additional student seat in the UC Regents, and will address concerns of the student body. The advisor will represent the educational program the student Regent is not a part of; for instance, if the UC Regent is an undergraduate student, then the student advisor would be a graduate student, and vice versa.
Unlike the student Regent, however, the student advisor will not have a direct vote and may only serve in open session meetings of boards and committees. The position will begin under a two year pilot program, with a student advisor joining the board for a single year term on July 1, 2017.
Prior to the proposal, UC Regents had two student representatives: a student Regent and a non-voting student Regent-designate, currently being served by UCLA undergraduate student Avi Oved and UC Riverside Ph.D. student Marcela Ramirez, respectively.
Oved has been working on this proposal for over a year. He received support from the UC Student Association, student governments from all ten UC campuses and testimony from 12 former student Regents for the student adviser position.
“This is an excellent opportunity to meaningfully engage students and really bring them into the conversation,” said Oved during the meeting. “This will allow the Board of Regents to serve as a proactive board rather than a reactive board.”
Despite the overwhelming support Oved received from every UC campus, some students expressed concern that a student advisor would not have a meaningful impact because the advisor could not vote during the Regent meetings.
Deidre Acker, a staff advisor on the Board of Regents, who believes the student advisor position was modeled after the also non-voting staff advisor position, ensures that the staff advisor plays an important role in contributing to meetings and informing decisions.
“You will find that the student advisor position will act in a similar role that we have been able to act in the last eleven years,” said Acker. “The Regents can make a more informed decision because we are sitting on the board; we can talk to you, and I think another voice for students, particularly how many students this board really represents, will be an awesome addition to this board.”
Moreover, the Regents agreed the student advisor position was a fair compromise because a non-voting member could be added to the board without requiring a formal amendment to the California Constitution.
UC President Janet Napolitano endorsed the position, not only because it provided another student voice at the Regent meetings, but also because it would serve to inform students about the UC Regents as well.
“Student Regents can be very effective communicators of what’s really happening at Regents meetings back to students,” said Napolitano. “I think [a student Regent] — or a non-voting advisor — will add another student that will explain what it’s really like to run the University of California.”