Student Regent Chooses Not to Attend UC Board Of Regents Meeting to Prevent Larger Protests

Photo: Jesse Chang
Jesse Chang

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SAN FRANCISCO - Amid controversy over an alleged sexual battery, UC Student Regent Jesse Cheng did not attend Wednesday's UC Board of Regents meeting at UCSF's Mission Bay campus because he said he felt his presence would provoke larger protests which might disrupt the meeting.

Last Thursday, the UC Irvine Office of Student Conduct found Cheng - a senior on the campus - guilty of a student conduct violation for sexual battery. While the Orange County District Attorney did not press charges against Cheng due to lack of evidence, the office's ruling prompted protests outside the meeting against Cheng and led him to refrain from attending the meeting.

Cheng said he may file an appeal with the office. He said he did not feel his absence at the meeting affected his ability to serve as student regent.

Board chair Russell Gould said the issue will be referred to the board's committee on governance after any appeals process.

"I wouldn't resign because the office said I may have done something ... I'm innocent in the sense that there were no criminal proceedings against me," Cheng said. "If I was deemed as not being able to serve students well, then the question of resignation would be very prominent."

He said he met with campus chancellors before the meeting in order to mitigate the impact of his absence. Student Regent-designate Alfredo Mireles replaced Cheng at the meeting.

Members of a coalition of university students and alumni protesting Cheng's alleged sexual battery said that they wanted Cheng to resign and that they wanted the regents to conduct a separate investigation into Cheng's student conduct violation.

"I'm here for (Laya) to fight for the just cause of getting him (Cheng) to resign because someone who's done something like this should not have so much power," said Vanita Mistry, a UC Berkeley senior and member of the coalition who was present at the meeting. "In the UC system, he's the most powerful UC student that we have."

Katie Nelson of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.

Contact Rachel Banning-Lover and Amruta Trivedi at [email protected]

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