State Recognizes Student Regent Post at 25 Years





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Twenty-five years after the student regent position was created, the state Senate this week unanimously passed a measure that recognizes, commends and celebrates the student member seat at the UC Board of Regents.

Passed Monday, the measure explains the history of the student regent position and its importance to both the university and students.

Jess Bravin, a former student regent and UC Berkeley law school graduate, said he felt the measure affords students the respect they deserve and recognizes the importance of the position.

The measure, introduced by state Sen. John Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara, states that "the student regent has brought a unique, essential, valuable and appropriate viewpoint to the highest councils of the university, providing a new level of legitimacy, accountability and effectiveness to university policy-making."

California voters amended the State Constitution in November 1974 to mandate the appointment of a student to the UC Board of Regents. Each regent serves for one year and provides a student voice on a board composed of businesspeople and politicians.

"(The measure) sends an important message because everyone that has served as a student regent knows there is an attitude that the politically elected members express to the students that you do not really belong here," Bravin said.

He added that UC students are not simply a product of the university but should also be allowed to participate in university decisions.

"I think that the legislature is using the 25th anniversary of the position to send a reminder to the board of regents that the student is not an uninvited member at the table but sometimes the most important person at the table," he said.

Legislators, both Democratic and Republican, seemed more interested in the ideas of the students than their fellow board members, Bravin said.

"When I was on the board, there were a number of members who didn't think there should even be a student member," he said.

Michelle Pannor, a UC Berkeley student and student regent in the 1999-00 school year, said that the value of students is often not recognized when making decisions about the university.

"I think it is important to get a perspective from someone who is currently part of the system and understands the social and economic pressures of students," she said. "That's what the university is all about, the students. I think that often the student has a unique and important point of view different than the other members and it is important to see that the student view is respected by the legislature."

The regents held a banquet last November to which the former regents were invited in honor of the 25th anniversary. Bravin said he was honored that the legislation took the time to recognize the hard work of the student regents.

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