By Katelyn Jacobson
City on a Hill Press Reporter
The UC Board of Regents has only one elected member, and his time is almost up.
On June 30, student regent D’Artagnan Scorza will pass the torch to Jesse Bernal, the student regent designate, who in turn will be replaced by a student from one of the 10 UC campuses.
The road to confirmation takes four months, and all but the final leg of the race is entirely conducted by students.
All applications from Southern California UCs are reviewed in Northern California, and vice versa. On March 7, the Student Union Assembly (SUA) chairs of the five northern universities reviewed UCs Riverside, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Irvine applicants at the Berkeley campus.
After an eight-hour process, a pool of only 65 applications was narrowed down to no more than 10, reported UC Santa Cruz’s SUA chair Kalwis Lo.
“Just reviewing the applications is really hard, because they all want to be the student regent,” Lo said. “What I personally am looking for is what plans applicants have for the office, and why they feel that in this day and this time they need to be in this position.”
A second conference and a few interviews later, this number will be reduced to three, and the student regent for the 2010-2011 school year will be declared at the July regent meeting. Applicants are ranked on a scale of one to three before leaving student hands, and although the student recommendation is usually accepted, the Board of Regents has the final say.
Being the only student on the board can be a difficult road to walk, Bernal said, but one that is well worth it.
“It’s been difficult, but we’ve found allies in some of the regents,” Bernal said. “The most difficult thing has been, as students, still having to take the university as a whole. We have to look at issues affecting faculty, administration, and we have to take into account state issues.”
As of 2009, UC Santa Cruz has never produced a student regent. Victor Sanchez, SUA vice chair of external affairs, said this fact could be attributed to on-campus student services.
“If you look, we have over 100 clubs and organizations,” Sanchez said. “But if you go to Berkeley or UCLA, which are kind of the flagships of the UC, you’ll see all the programs dedicated to students, and they leave us in the dust.”
According to Sanchez, providing students with the services they need to successfully enter the regent arena is the most important thing the university can do for prospective applicants, and was also an area that he felt UCSC was lacking in.
“There is no administrative commitment to student services,” Sanchez said.
The next regent meeting will run from March 17 to 19, and Bernal said that fee hikes are more than likely to take place in future conferences. In the past, Bernal and Scorza have fought to keep them manageable, but will be up against increases that may top out at around 12 percent.
“Last year we negotiated down, we were able to get it down to 7 percent from a proposed 15 percent,” Bernal said. “We ended up compromising a lot to get fees down.”
Bernal contacted City on a Hill Press from Sacramento, where he was pushing state legislators to support the recent College Affordability Act. If passed, the act will place strict caps on fee increases and provide an annual increase in state revenues of roughly $2 billion by way of a new 1-percent tax on high-income individuals.
“We have a democratic majority in the state, but not a supermajority,” Bernal said. “Republicans made a promise not to increase taxes, and that’s been holding up, so its going to be a struggle to get even one or two of them to vote for it.”
Despite past accomplishments, the student regent has only one vote of 26. His or her powers of persuasion notwithstanding, this person represents the only student voice in a council that makes decisions affecting 200,085 students.
“I definitely don’t think one student on the board is enough,” Sanchez said. “But it was a really big fight to even get that one voice.”
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