Regents: One Student 'Adequate'

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Editor's Note: This is the last in a

three-part series examining the student regent position.

UC Regents have said its student member brings a valuable perspective to the table but additional student positions to the board are not necessary.

Currently, one student sits on the 26-member UC Board of Regents. Former student regents have called for increasing student voice on the board, but other members of the board said more student input is not required.

Because of the highly rigorous selection process, regents said the voice of one strong student regent is enough to convey the student perspective to the board.

"I don't think it's a question of number," said UC Regent Steven Nakashima. "One student is adequate. You don't need any more. The process to be selected is tough and rough. Anyone who comes out on top in that search has to be an extremely outstanding individual."

Some regents have said even one student sitting on the board negatively impacts the decisions it makes.

In 1996, former UC Regent Glenn Campbell attempted to completely abolish the student regent position. Campbell originally proposed to exterminate the post, citing that a student regent's place on the board presented a conflict of interest.

California constitution specifies that a regent cannot speak for any specific constituency. Regent bylaws also dictate that student regents do not represent students. Instead, they are simply another member of the board.

Campbell said at the time he brought up his proposal that student regents feel pressure to represent students and find it problematic to serve on the board without bias.

Although current regents said they do not favor increasing the number of students on the board, a voting and fully participating student regent is pertinent.

"I think they are essential," Nakashima said. "You get the input from the student's viewpoint. They go out to the field of all the universities, talk to people, talk to students and find out what their views are. (When) they might not agree with what's going on, they will put forth what the students feed them."

The student regent position was instituted in 1975 as a member of the board entitled to full participation, but without voting rights. Since then, the student regent has gained voting privileges and is expected to shed new light on issues like student housing and financial aid.

UC Regent Odessa Johnson said having one student regent is sufficient for the UC system and would consider increasing the number only if the job is unmanageable for one person.

"I would have to ask the student regent whether or not the load is too heavy for one regent," Johnson said. "A very strong student who will put forth the time and effort should be enough."

Johnson said most of the 18 appointed UC regents own and head major California business corporations and do not understand the day-to-day lives of students.

"(The student regent) brings forth the student point of view, and the student point of view is one that we value," Johnson said.

She added that the board needs to have student representation.

"(Current student regent Michelle Pannor) certainly does bring a fresh perspective when it comes to other students," Johnson said. "I know she's a real strong advocate in the student service area."

The student regent serves a one-year term, which remains the shortest on the board.


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