Undergraduate Chosen as Student Regent Nominee


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A special committee within the UC Board of Regents nominated third-year UC Irvine student Jesse Cheng as the student regent for the 2010-2011 year on Friday, marking the first undergraduate regent nominee since 2002.

The committee's nomination will go before the entire board at its July 14 to 16 meeting for approval.

Cheng beat out two graduate finalists for the position-Miguel Lopez, a graduate student from UCLA and Carrie Carmody, a graduate student at UC Irvine.

If approved, Cheng will be the 36th student regent since the position was created in 1975 and would serve as the non-voting student designate until his tenure begins in July 2010.

Cheng, 20, would also be the 20th undergraduate to serve since the position was established.

The last undergraduate student regent was UC Berkeley student Matt Murray for 2003-2004, said UC spokesperson Leslie Sepuka.

With the UC system anticipating an $800 million deficit, Cheng said he will strive to preserve the university's reputation for proving high quality public education at a price students can afford-something that is he said is in danger.

Currently, students are facing a 9.3 percent fee increase starting the fall semester, but the UC system is considering changing that hike to 20 or 25 percent.

Cheng said that the issue of lowering tuition is not a easy issue for many students to understand and may not be as viable an option as many believe it to be.

"(But) as you start to get more into it, you start to think about who is paying the professors ... lowering tuition becomes a much more difficult position," he said.

Cheng, who said his age may hamper his understanding of the university's complex operations, said he will need to work on understanding graduate students' perspectives.

"I have the shared experience with 150,000 undergraduates currently in the system," said Cheng, who is majoring in Asian American Studies. "But when you are a graduate student you have some perspective from the undergraduate life but you are currently living a different experience. I don't have that shared experience of being a professional graduate student."

Current Student Regent D'Artagnan Scorza, who is a UCLA graduate student, said Cheng's status as an undergraduate student would be a much-needed and valuable perspective to the board.

"Undergrads tend to be more involved in campus student life," said Scorza, whose one-year tenure ends in July. "They tend live on campus, they tend to have the financial aid issues concerns while graduate students face a challenge of funding."

Other student leaders-both graduate and undergraduate-said Cheng's education status might have little effect on his ability to represent the students' voice on the board.

"At the end of the day, whatever his views are, they're going to be representing all students," said Miguel Daal, Graduate Assembly President at UC Berkeley.

Will Smelko, ASUC President at UC Berkeley, said graduate student regents have had a good record of representing both graduate and undergraduate students but believes Cheng will do the same.

"I don't think its going to be additional benefit but I do think it could be a positive to have a undergraduate voice," he said.


Alexandra Wilcox is the assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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