UC Student Regents answer questions about student interaction with the Board of Regents at UCSC Feb. 17. Photo by Mikaela Todd.

For video coverage of this event, check out City on a Hill Press’ section on the website: http://www.sctv28.com. 

Alfredo Mireles Jr. and Jonathan Stein, the current student regent and student regent-designate, respectively, came to UCSC to talk with students who were interested in becoming the next UC student regent Feb. 17. At this meet and greet, the student regents answered questions regarding the UC system, current events and what their jobs entail. Student regents are appointed by student leaders from each UC campus.

Students asked about the positions and one student remarked that the student regents “are more of a cure, not a prevention for issues that come up.”

“A huge portion of our job is reactive,” Stein said.

Mireles elaborated on the duties of student regents.

“Most student regents come in with a personal agenda of things they want to accomplish,” Mireles said. “But issues more often than not fall into our lap, such as UC San Francisco’s proposition to break away from the UC system.”

UCSF’s bid for autonomy would not be welcomed by the UC Board of Regents, Mireles said. But most of UCSF’s budget comes from outside sources, such as grants and other funding. Only 1 percent comes from actual tuition and 4 percent comes from the state.

In the meeting, the student
regents focused their discussion on the protest slated for March 5 and the UC-backed rally on May 17, both taking place in the capitol. Both protests will focus on lobbying against any further budget cuts in Sacramento.

The March 5 protest is organized by the leaders of the UC Student Association (UCSA).

KZSC, UCSC’s radio station, asked what the UC student regents’ expectations for the May 17 rally were.

“Students are wary, and understandably so,” Stein said. “There is no communication from the regents, so students ask, ‘Why should we take part?’”

The student regents have been making an effort to get the regents to come to campuses and talk to students. But they say it’s an uphill battle.

“For the most part, the regents are not interested in visiting and listening to students,” Stein said.

It is clear that Stein and Mireles go against the grain of such tradition, being students themselves.

But not every member on the UC Board of Regents believes in a hands-off approach to running the UC system. The new chair of the board, Sherry Lansing, has shown that she is willing to go above and beyond the examples her predecessors and colleagues have set, the regents said.

“She is going to every university in the UC system to speak with students, which is unheard of,” Stein said. “She is also trying to convince the other regents to come to the universities to meet with students.”

Stein has been working on a project that strives to improve the “campus climate” across UC campuses.

“Campus Climate involves outreach to the different communities across the UC, such as minority groups and LBGT,” Stein said. “We want students to feel comfortable on campus. We want them to feel welcome.”

At Berkeley, Stein has also been key in implementing a campus climate survey.

“My goal is to make a system-wide Campus Climate group, where all campuses can share their ideas for making a better university,” Stein said.

While some students see the regents as the source of tuition problems, the student regents say the regents are only reacting to the larger issue at hand.

“We need to demand more money from the state,” Stein said. “The state is going to discuss some tax initiatives so that they can increase their revenue. The regents are financially conservative, for the most part. We need to convince them that while they may be against the tax initiatives in their personal lives, as part of their job they need to endorse it wholeheartedly.”

The March 5 and May 17 protests call for the same thing: more money from the state. Mireles believes that it is time to fight back against these budget cuts.

“We’ve been playing defense, because that’s what you have to do until the economy recovers,” Mireles said. “But May 17 is our opportunity to play offense.”

The student regents have a lot on their plates, but are excited to be a part of this period in UC history.

“This is a historical moment in the UC,” Mireles said. “Students are realizing their own power, their own voice, and are using it.”