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Last Friday, UCSB Associated Students hosted a “meet and greet” event with Student Regent Jonathan Stein in the Loma Pelona Center to give students the opportunity to ask ques- tions and discuss the university’s budgetary issues.
The event featured a presentation by Stein addressing the implications of Proposition 30 and acquainting students with the Board of Regents and its purpose within the UC system. Though Student Regent-designate Cinthia Flores was origi- nally scheduled to attend, she was unable to make an appear- ance due to scheduling conflicts.
Stein, a UC Berkeley graduate student who is working toward a law degree and a master’s degree in public policy, said the event’s goal was to encourage students to become more involved in and informed about the decisions made at local, statewide and national levels with regard to UC policies.
“First and foremost, I give voice to student concerns at the highest level of UC administration … I empower students to solve their own problems,” Stein said. “We have to engage our administrators, and what that means is that Student Regents are one part of a much larger student movement that is sort of attacking from all angles.”
Stein said while protest is often an effective method of communicating with the board, much more is needed to fully engage the administrators and promote widespread change. Some potential ways to take a more noticeable stance include holding advocacy protests on several campuses and lobbying at regents’ meetings, Stein said.
According to A.S. President Sophia Armen, it is crucial that students recognize their voice on the Board of Regents and work for further representation in committees that allocate large amounts of funding and other resources to the university.
“It is fundamentally at odds with the purpose of education that we as students in the UC, who number over 200,000, only have one student vote on the Board of Regents that raise our fees and affect our daily lives,” Armen said.
Stein said Prop. 30 was a huge victory for students, but only a temporary solution for the coming cuts to the UC system. According to Stein, students must re-involve themselves in advocacy efforts for the upcoming 2013-14 year and any future year in order to avoid huge tuition hikes.
“As a result, students have to go back to Sacramento to begin the process of lobbying for another tuition buyout,” Stein said. “We passed Prop. 30 through student voter registration and student voter turnout … now we have to go back and lobby to negate a tuition increase for the second year in a row.”
According to Armen, ensuring the transparent use of funds generated through Prop. 30 is one of many causes that contrib- ute to the importance of “fighting for our right to education as a public good.”
Second-year economics and political science major Sydney Bennet, a campus organizing director for the A.S. External Vice President of Student Affairs, said students need to take action by getting involved with campaigns that speak directly to California legislators and create more opportunities to lobby in support of education.
“We represent students on statewide, national and UC level, and our goal is to make sure education remains afford- able and accessible,” Bennet said. “This [event] was just the first step.”
A version of this article appeared on page 3 of November 19th, 2012′s print edition of the Nexus.