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Sunday, October 17, 2021

“Meet the Regents” at UC Davis

The Memorial Union Art Lounge has been taken over by the faces of the University of California Regents. While students study, sleep and surf the Internet, 18 UC Regents look over them.

This is part of an art exhibition titled “Meet the Regents.”

“I didn’t know much about the Regents … all I knew was that I wrote a check to them every quarter,” said Ruthye Cole, a junior art history major.

Put together as a class project by the students of Art History (AHI) 401, a seminar on curatorial principles, the exhibit includes information about each regent’s backgrounds and recent decisions made concerning the budget crisis.

“We’re trying to demystify the system,” Cole said.

The exhibit features three main components: 18 photos of the regents, a video, podcast and a family tree diagramming the hierarchical relationship from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger down to the students.

Like Cole, many of the students of AHI 401 were intent to show their fellow students who the people were behind the recent 32 percent increase in UC tuitions.

“It’s the little bits that jump out at you like how one of the regents is a VP at Wachovia Bank,” said Kevin Frances, a senior art studio major.

The students did much of their research through the Internet and databases, putting together some of what they found into the short bios included underneath the blown up pictures of the Regents.

The information collected shows the corporate and political ties of many of the current UC regents.

Senior Lucy Potter, a double major in biological sciences and classical language and literature, is among the students who found it relatively easy to search for background information on the regents.

“I’m really surprised by it all … how blatant it is. It’s all right there,” Potter said.

Among the most surprising aspects among the bios are regents who are CEOs or VPs companies such as Disney or Tampax with various educational levels and majors, Cole said.

“They all seem to have so much going on … [they] have so much on [their] plate; can they really focus on the UC system?,” Cole said.

Dayanita Ramesh, junior art history major, was especially surprised to learn that many of the regents went to UCs and seemed to have worked their way to their positions.

“You’d think that they’d have some nostalgia … that they could sympathize,” Ramesh said.

Student curators hope that the exhibit will encourage their fellow classmates to talk and to get involved.

“It’s in their power to change what’s going on. We do have influence,” Cole said.

The exhibit will run through Mar. 3-19 at the Memorial Union art lounge. An accompanying podcast is available for download at sites.google.com/site/meettheregents.

JESSY WEI can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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