Student Regent-designate Devon Graves held a Student Regents Town Hall at UCI on Jan. 19, inviting students and faculty to attend and discuss issues facing the UC community.
As part of a larger initiative to meet with and inform all UC campuses about current issues the Regents will be discussing at the upcoming Board meeting, Graves explained the roles of the Student Regent, the Student Regent-designate and the newly piloted role of the UC Student Advisor to the Regents.
The new advisor role was approved for a two-year trial period as a method in which students could have an even more prominent voice on the Board, although the advisor is not a voting role. Following the end of the trial period, the Regents will decide whether the addition of the student advisor should continue as a position.
The three roles together act as the “sole student representatives of the UC Board of Regents… that help [govern] the institution,” Graves explained.
The Student Regent, as the only voting member on the Board that represents students, along with the other 24 voting members — 18 of whom are appointed by the governor for 12-year terms — lead the 10 campuses, the five medical hospitals and the three national labs that the university administers.
The body decides on issues like tuition hikes and free speech policies on campuses at bi-monthly meetings at UC San Francisco.
“The reason [the meetings are held at UCSF] is because it is a graduate campus so there aren’t undergrads there to come out to those meetings and necessarily voice their concerns on undergraduate issues because it is a tough campus to get to,” Graves said.
After an overview of the function and operational workings of the Board, Graves highlighted five major issues that the Student Regent board members believed were especially prevalent: tuition affordability and state divestment in higher education; basic needs: housing and food security; addressing sexual harassment and sexual assault; free speech on university campuses; and building student political power in the 2018 election.
Following Governor Brown’s recent budget proposal, which included one percent less in funding than the UCs expected, Graves addressed the issue of state divestment.
“We really have to think about what the future of higher education looks like in the United States,” he said. “What does the future of higher education look like for the University of California? Because we can’t keep raising tuition and I hope that is not the way we solve the issue of state divestment… From my view, the Regents do not want to raise tuition, that is not their goal.”
Graves also mentioned efforts to address problems like housing insecurity among students such as a system-wide task force, as well as sexual assault on campuses, including the new UC Title IX committee.
Before concluding the presentation and meeting, Graves opened up the floor for questions not yet addressed or mentioned. Various students and faculty members raised concerns over state accountability in terms of promised funding as well as the fight for the rights of UC workers.
“We always stand in solidarity with workers and faculty… it is all part of an ongoing discussion that just gets to the larger issue of financing higher education.”