Recruiting prospective candidates for the 2013 -2014 student regent position, the current UC student regents visited UCR as part of a systemwide tour on Jan. 25. Audience members were informed about the role of student regents, major topics concerning the UC and the deadline for applications.
“Each student regent brings to the position an agenda that he/she wants to push for but you realize very very quickly that you get bounced off your agenda almost immediately,” stated UC Student Regent Jonathan Stein, a law and graduate student at UC Berkeley, who reflected on both the accomplishments and challenges to his position. UC Student Regent-Designate and UC Irvine law student Cinthia Flores will succeed Stein as the student regent on July 1, 2013.
The student regent position is made up of one student regent and one student regent-designate. Serving as a voting member on the Board of Regents, Stein is shadowed by Flores, who does not hold a vote on the board. The regent-designate position can be thought of as a preparation for the full student regent position. Each term lasts one year and is open to any enrolled UC student with at least two remaining years at a UC campus.
Stein and Flores pinpointed the main duties of a student regent such as advocacy, building student power, holding administration accountable and addressing current UC issues. “You have to be responsive to the issue of the day or the emergency of the month [and] you have to fight for students wherever that fight is necessary,” stated Stein.
Representing 230,000 students on the UC governing board, the student regents are the main advocates for access, affordability and diversity for undergraduate and graduate students systemwide.
Major issues that engulfed the last year included Proposition 30, police brutality, online education, funding, sustainability and financial aid. “The Office of the President is looking aggressively to include private donations and philanthropy. So right now, we’re seeing if we can offer a much more competitive financial aid package for students who are between those stages [in the Blue and Gold program],” stated Flores.
Stein expressed that as the student regent he wished to, “bring system-wide issues to light that [students] might not otherwise be aware of.” He emphasized the need to find a balance between personal and professional lifestyle, which becomes tolling on one’s mental and physical health. “Student regent is the kind of job that will expand to fill every minute of your life, if you let it,” he said.
Flores described the position as one that requires much stamina and high interest. “If you’re looking for a line on your resume this isn’t the position for you.” Despite their class schedules, both Flores and Stein are often on the road visiting campuses and attending meetings..
Other student concerns for the current year include the expansion of web-based courses and increase in out-of-state students. In referencing the Wall Street Journal, Stein held the concept of online education as “an innovation without a business model,” but appeared promising in terms of making higher education more attainable. “There are really admirable access goals…but the business side of all of this is one giant question mark,” stated Stein.
“Our last regents meeting was very indicative of the conversation that the UC is able to have now that the UC does not need to solely focus on fee increases or the budget,” said Flores. Both Stein and Flores believe that greater focus can be placed on improving the quality of life at a UC, now that proposed state budget offers positive funding to California’s education system.
The student regents encourage applications from anyone who is interested. The deadline to apply is Feb. 28 and the application can be found at http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/app14.pdf.