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Saturday, April 20, 2024

UC Student Regent visits UC Davis

On Jan. 24, UC Student Regent Cinthia Flores and Regent-designate Sadia Saifuddin visited UC Davis to discuss the upcoming 2015-16 Student Regent Application, as well as answer questions from the public about the state of the University of California (UC). The meeting was held from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in South Hall.

The Student Regent is a representative of approximately 230,000 professional, graduate and undergraduate UC students on the UC system’s governing board, the Board of Regents.

The bulk of the meeting was spent showing a presentation by the Student Regent representatives on changes to the Student Regent application and encouraging students to apply.

A major change to the application includes a switch from paper to online submissions. According to Flores, instead of submitting a paper application to their respective chancellor, students will now email their application to Anne Shaw, associate secretary of the Regents and their prospective campus’ Regent liaison.

Another change to the application includes a new personal statement format. Instead of having to answer specific questions in a character limit as done in previous years, the application will now ask students to write a six-page, double-spaced narrative based on guided questions.

During the meeting, Flores encouraged students from UC Davis to apply for the position because of a lack of Student Regent presence from UC Davis for the last seven years.

“UC Davis hasn’t had a Student Regent in a really long time,” Flores said.

Before the presentation began, Flores and Saifuddin listened to and answered questions from the audience regarding issues facing UC students.

Issues presented included inconvenient access to Student Regents, more inclusion of gender-neutral restrooms, the increase in UC privatization, a longer orientation, an increase in online courses, an emphasis on teaching rather than research, not enough representation of international students and the decline of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) majors.

“A lot of times, instructors are not actually teaching students and they’re kind of paying a lot of money to teach themselves when that’s what your professors are supposed to be there for,” said Star Bacon, a third-year community and regional development major, as well as Student Assistant to the Chancellor.

The UC Student Regent application consists of three components: a general information form, three references and a personal statement. The applicant will also go through three interview rounds. Applicants will first be interviewed by the Regional presidents. The top ten candidates will then be selected and subsequently interviewed by the University of California Students Association, who will choose the top three students to be interviewed by the UC Regents Selection Committee.

The UC Student Regent must be a UC student with at least two years remaining at the UC. The student serves as the Student Regent-designate for the first year and the Student Regent for the second year. According to Flores, the Student Regent-designate and Student Regent perform the same job responsibilities, except only the Student Regent is allowed to vote.

For Saifuddin, the short term allows the Student Regent to develop innovative alternatives to current policy.

“Cinthia and I sit on the board for two years so we recycle out a lot more quickly than other Regents,” Saifuddin said. “Other Regents are appointed for 12-year terms and oftentimes they’re old, they come from a very specific demographic, so they may not have the same ability to think outside the box that we do as students.”

Saifuddin said she is the second undergraduate student to hold a Student Regent position in approximately 10 years. She said this is due to graduate and professional students having a longer time to build their resumes in order to obtain the position.

According to Flores, the Student Regent and the Student Regent-designate are the only people on the board who have a specifically designated student interest as their primary job responsibility.

“It is our job to fight for student’s interests and priorities; often times these are determined by the UC Students Association, the Council of Presidents and different governing bodies. Students bring us issues, and it’s our job to bring them back to the Board of Regents,” Saifuddin said.

Flores also said the Student Regent is the primary advocate for access, affordability and diversity at UC.

Along with voicing student issues to the Board of Regents, each Student Regent also has their own personal agenda they works toward. Flores said that her personal agenda dealt with issues involving access and diversity, while Saifuddin said that she was interested in issues of affordability. Student Regents also have the responsibility of building student power within the University through communicating with statewide leaders.

“There are times when the going gets tough, but at the end of the day I can sit back and say, ‘I’m here. I’m making a change. These are the issues I’m working on and working towards,’” Flores said.

The 2015-16 Student Regent application is due on Feb. 20.

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