Photo Credits: IAN JONES / AGGIE FILE
Chancellor May’s student advisors serve as advocates for the undergraduate community
UC Davis undergraduates have the opportunity to apply to be student advisors to the Chancellor. The application can be found on the Student Advisors to the Chancellor website and is due by April 21.
Upperclassmen may apply to be one of Chancellor May’s student advisors, according to Chancellor Gary May.
“I’m excited about each of these positions and hope students will get their applications in by April 21,” May said in an email. “My advisors share student concerns with me, foster relationships with other students, and advise me on a variety of campus issues.”
Any UC Davis undergraduate may apply to be on the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Advisory Board.
“The members of the board are highly motivated student leaders who explore ways to enhance the undergraduate experience,” May said. “The board can initiate, support or coordinate campus-wide special projects and events related to a variety of topics.”
Being a student advisor or serving on the board are both ways for students to develop leadership skills and affect their communities, according to May.
“Both of these opportunities are a great way to work with campus administrators, get more involved on campus, and advocate for your peers,” May said. “For those students interested in developing their leadership skills and having an impact, I hope they’ll apply.”
Abigail Edwards, a fourth-year sustainable agriculture and food systems major, is currently one of two student advisors to the chancellor. Edwards said she was drawn to the advisory position partially because of the unique variety of tasks that are required of a student advisor on a day to day basis.
“It’s a very dynamic position,” Edwards said. “At any time in the week, we might be meeting with senior administrators, meeting with students, meeting with student activists, meeting with students who have concerns, meeting with different center representatives, talking with people from different organizations, responding to emails, going to our office hours. A lot of it is just knowing where to direct people and making introductions to the right people to direct student needs.”
May and his student advisors talk about campus climate issues, such as the fires that occurred during Fall Quarter, and what could have gone better with the campus closure.
“We’ve had a lot of things that have happened on campus this year and I think it’s been a learning experience for everyone involved,” Edwards said. “When things like that happen, we’re there telling Chancellor May how the students are feeling and what we heard as students who are on the ground every day talking to other students and reflecting on how things might have [been] done differently or if something like this were to happen in the future, how we wish it would be handled.”
William Sampson, a fifth-year Native American studies and history double major and tribal affiliate of the Oglala Lakota tribe, is the second student advisor to the chancellor this year. Sampson also emphasized that the student advisors advocate for the student body in conversations with the chancellor and administrators when any issues arise that affect the student body, such as the incident with the fires and campus closures last year.
“If student concerns are being brought up or you’re seeing issues with regards to advocacy brought up, that’s really where we try to step in and work with students as well as on behalf of students to make sure those issues are being advocated for on the appropriate levels,” Sampson said. “We can really start to see some sort of change more efficiently.”
Sampson mentioned several ways students can get into contact with both himself and Edwards in order to express their concerns or opinions.
“Chancellor May is looking for student input and really wants to see what the student perspective is,” Sampson said. “Abby and I, we get folks that will reach out to us via messenger, text, email, in person, and we really try to field concerns, thoughts and really try to elaborate on those in a matter. We’re students too, so trying to bring in our own perspectives as well.”
The university administration operates very bureaucratically, which makes it more complex to achieve outcomes, according to Edwards.
“Coming into this position, I realized everything is so much more complicated than it seems,” Edwards said. “Even at the top level, the chancellor trying to do something is so much more complicated than [signing] off on it and [having it] happen. It’s very bureaucratic and a lot of things are so much more complex than I think we as students really ever are privy to.”
Edwards and Sampson are often the only student advocates in rooms full of administrators.
“When we’re sitting in a room, sometimes we’re around a whole bunch of administrators and Abby and I tend to be the only two undergraduate students in the room,” Sampson said. “Really providing that feedback of what students are feeling is really powerful and we’ve definitely gotten some good, powerful responses from administrators. These positions really do reaffirm that there’s a reason and intention for them being here.”
Sampson said he applied for the position of student advisor because he was concerned about student advocacy as a top priority for an institution that is intended for students.
Edwards emphasized the importance of learning the power of student voices after serving as the student advisor to the chancellor over the last year.
“[…] We’ve definitely been in situations where we’ve had to put our foot down and say ‘No, we are the students, we’re providing you with the student perspective, this university is built for students, this is how we feel,’” Edwards said.
Student representation and sharing of student perspectives are made possible by these advisory positions, according to Edwards.
“I think part of applying for this position is really assuring that there will be a student in the room when these really important conversations are going on, and also it will be a really good student — someone who will advocate with and for students and really get out in the community and make sure that you’re representing the right narrative and that you’re really talking and working with other students, because it’s not just your own voice,” Edwards said.
Written by: Sabrina Habchi — firstname.lastname@example.org