While some may view the UC Regents’ possible attendance at the UC Student Association’s march to the capitol as a sign of unification, many students see it as a publicity stunt.
At the UC Regents’ last board meeting, Regents Richard C. Blum, Leslie Tang Schilling, Fred Ruiz, Charlene Zettle, Student Regent-Designate Jesse Cheng and UC President Mark Yudof all spoke in favor of attending UCSA’s movement on Mar. 1.
“They want to march to Sacramento – or show up there, briefly, to make it on to the evening news – to say something about how great it is that we can pressure the state government into prioritizing the budget in favor of higher education, but they will say nothing about their own defective priorities,” said Yoo-Hyun Oak, a senior film major, in an e-mail interview.
Cheng admits that the march is for publicity, but maintains that the regents are going because they care about the students.
“Yes, it’s a publicity stunt. But it’s a genuine publicity stunt,” he said.
The march will be more effective with added publicity, Cheng said.
“Going to Sacramento gives us that media attention, that media pressure,” Cheng said. “Students are not going to be a force without [media attention].”
Regents have expressed how a unified voice across the UC community is critical if Sacramento is to improve its funding of UC, said Leslie Sepuka, UC system spokesperson, in an e-mail interview.
Some students see the regents’ discussion as an attempt to divert pressure away from the regents and onto the state.
“It’s just a sign that they aren’t willing to take any of the blame,” said senior art history and technocultural studies major Alicia Edelman. “They want to co-opt our movement and say, ‘Yes, it’s the capitol’s fault. It’s our government, they’re doing it all wrong and it’s not us, so don’t blame us.'”
Edelman said she will protest at Sacramento because although the UC system’s problems do correspond with the state, there are still issues with the regents. Mark Schwartz, sophomore sociology major, expressed similar sentiments.
“Though there are problems within Sacramento as well, our chief concern lies with the people who control the money within the UC. Throwing more money at a broken and corrupt system will not solve the problems we face,” he said in an e-mail interview.
However, it is impossible to place the blame on the state, the regents or anyone, Cheng said.
“There are so many things that have made us come to this point,” Cheng said.
According to Sepuka, individuals from Yudof’s office are currently discussing the Mar. 1 rally with UCSA.
“We have agreement on many of the major issues, though not every detail in UCSA’s platform. We hope to visit legislators at the capitol together that day,” she said.
The regents are working on helping students get to Sacramento, Cheng said.
“We need students to be at Sacramento if we’re going to get this budget passed,” he said.
Oak doubts the regents share similar interests with the majority of the university’s populace.
“The regents are ‘saving’ a different university. They have a radically different vision of the university,” she said. “Their university is one that considers the students a huge revenue stream, not a populace the university is mandated to educate. In their university, the administrators – not the students – are the ‘talent’ they are trying to attract.”
Edelman said the regents have never been for the students, citing the $3.1 million dollars in performance-based payments approved at the last regents’ meeting.
The payments will go to 38 executives at UC hospitals. Yudof emphasized that these payments are not bonuses.
“They’re not bonuses, they are incentive pay to get certain behavior,” he said during the meeting.
Cheng maintains that the regents’ hard work is essentially a second volunteer job, proving that the regents care about the students.
“They care. They work for free and it’s really tiring being a regent,” Cheng said. “Being a regent used to be a badge of honor, but you didn’t really have to do that much for it. But now it’s another job and it’s really intensive.”
Even though only six regents said they would come to Sacramento, Cheng said others might still come. Due to their other jobs, some regents may be busy Mar. 1.
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