UC Davis students have challenged the administration on a variety of issues concerning transparency these past few quarters with protests, sit-ins and walk-outs.
To help bridge that communication gap, Chancellor Linda Katehi and her student assistants have collaborated together to create the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Advisory Board.
“It is a great way to get your voice heard and I am very honored to be a part of it,” said Melissa Muganzo, a board member and senior community and regional development major.
Katehi implemented the concept of the advisory board. After working with a similar board in Illinois, she decided to bring the concept to UCD, said Nina Massoumi, current Student Assistant to the Chancellor and senior international relations major.
The board’s first official meeting commenced this quarter and had several UC administrators, including Katehi, in attendance that came to talk to the board about their purpose and answered questions from board members.
“It was really great. [Katehi] was very straightforward and any questions that we had she definitely answered it,” said Muganzo.
The advisory board consists of 14 students, from all majors, who are passionate about getting student voices to be heard among the top administrators at UC Davis.
Andrew Coates, a sophomore environmental policy and analysis planning major, and Laurent Arribe, a senior international relations and history double major, both have different issues that they are passionate about.
Coates, as a member of the Aggie Ambassadors, an outreach organization for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, lends a different perspective to the Board. Arribe, in comparison, as an international student said he could improve the situation for students like him on campus.
Both Coates and Arribe agree on the fact that the biggest issue that the board will take on is the responsibility of “open and honest communication” between students and administration.
Marcus Tang, a senior political science major, realizes the importance of effectively conveying to the chancellor and administration the concerns of the student body.
“I wanted to join the board because I think it serves a very important purpose on campus, especially during these particular times,” said Tang in an email interview. “There are so many students who are frustrated or concerned because of the lack of transparency from the UC administration.”
Tang and other members of the board recognize that because there are many student voices on a University campus, it is hard for the administration to address them all.
“I can imagine how difficult it must be for the administration to effectively communicate its motivations or plans to the UC community,” said Tang.
The student board members are currently working on ways to make themselves more visible to the UCD campus along with strategies in becoming an effective communicative resource between students and administrators.
To begin the process of constructing a communication channel between the students and administrators, the advisory board is working on a poll that will soon be available through MyUCDavis.
“The [Student Affairs Research and Information] poll will be an opportunity for the students to share with us any issues that are affecting them, and would like to be addressed to the administration, so they can ensure that the proper resources are being provided,” said Fariha Naveed, senior science and technology studies major.
The poll will consist of a survey in which students can choose from a variety of issues that are affecting them and will include an open comment box in which they can voice their own concerns.
One of the issues that board members, like Naveed and Muganzo, are particularly interested about are the current budget cuts being made across the UCD campus.
“How we can get through this budget crisis and yet not sacrifice the quality of our education and what the quality of a UC education should be,” Naveed said.
The current members of the advisory board, including the student assistants, consist of one first year, sophomore, junior and 13 seniors.
Each member had to complete an application and go through an interview with the Student Assistants to the Chancellor.
Massoumi, along with student assistant Allison Zike, conducted the interviews and chose the student board members.
When choosing members of the board, Massoumi said that she and Zike looked for not only student involvement in activities but also an awareness of student issues and ideas toward solving them.
“Students were not chosen to be representatives of any specific campus population or group, but rather, they were chosen because we felt they were capable of working to understand and collaborate with many communities,” said Massoumi.
The members of the advisory board hold meetings three to four times per quarter, based around the Chancellor’s schedule. Time is split between discussion among members and discussions involving an upper UCD administrator.
“We hope that people would take advantage of the SARI poll and use the members as resources,” said Massoumi.
For more information about the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Student Advisory Board, go to sac.ucdavis.edu.
JESSY WEI can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.