Board, Students Clash Over Selection Process

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Despite agreeing on the best choice to serve as the next student regent, tensions remain high between the UC Board of Regents and the UC Student Association.

The UCSA forwarded the names of three finalists for consideration by a regents committee, after it narrowed down the choices from an initial pool of nine.

But weeks later, the UC regents disregarded the UCSA's choices and interviewed the semifinalists, citing a breach of confidentiality to the press as the reason for their decision.

Members of the UC regents would not comment on why they decided to reject the UCSA's choices, except to say that revealing the identity of the finalists had hurt the "integrity" of the selection process.

But yesterday, John Davies, chair of the regents, said in addition to the names being revealed, the regents did not appreciate the letter from the UCSA that stated that two finalists were more qualified than the third.

"(The problem was) that UCSA should not give anything about priority and that two of them were recommended before (we held) the interviews," Davies said. "We had to let the (UCSA) know, so we accomplished this through a message. There was no other way to do this so we gave everybody an equal chance. It didn't undo what had gone on."

Davies added that the act of re-interviewing all the candidates was designed to voice dissatisfaction with the UCSA.

"We think it would give UCSA a motive next time to do it right," he said. "We heard from students that if they knew that would happen, they would not apply. It's very important to keep that confidential."

But UCSA chair Eli Ilano said it was "upsetting" that the regents dismissed the group's choices.

"We went through the process and named three students even though we were uncomfortable with one of them," he said. "We didn't say anything bad about anyone. This is outrageous."

Ilano added no one had informed him that the letter was the reason the UCSA's choices were disregarded.

"Now John Davies is talking to the press and telling stories," he said. "No one else talked about this. I don't know what's going on with him."

If the regents re-interviewed the candidates because of the letter, they should have stated as much, Ilano said.

"What's the use of press releases if you're gonna lie in them?" he asked. "They might as well be writing gobbledigook. And the letter presented even less of a basis for disregarding our choices."

Ilano said he was happy in the "short term" because the outcome of the selection process was a strong candidate.

"There is still tension between the regents and UCSA about who controls the selection process," he said. "This time around it worked out but the bigger issues are still unresolved."

There are underlying problems between the UC regents and the UCSA, he said.

"It seems to be getting more sensitive and this was the worst year ever," Ilano said. "I hope to sit down and talk about it. But to do that the special committee would have to call a special meeting, and I don't know if they will. We need to resolve this."

Ilano said it was especially important to settle the dispute because the UCSA is set to interview candidates and select three finalists for the 2001-02 student regent in only two months.

"This is still not resolved and in May there is another selection," he said. "Now the UCSA is trying to send a message to the regents and the regents are trying to send a message to the UCSA, and it is the candidates that get hurt because they are caught in the middle."

Ilano added that he plans to ask to meet with the regents to discuss growing strains. He said there is potential for similar problems with the May decision if there is no clear agreement.

Current Student Regent Michelle Pannor agreed that failure to reconcile areas of contention could provoke problems in the future.

"I hope their choices are respected," she said. "I don't really understand why they were not this time and I don't think it's right that they weren't. Policies should be followed strictly as they have been in the past. Student input in choosing the student regent is really important."

Bernice Ng of The Daily Californian staff contributed to this report.


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