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This past Friday, UCSB welcomed 2013-14 UC Student Regent Cinthia Flores, who answered students’ questions regarding UC systemwide issues and discussed ongoing topics such as UC online education classes and budgetary struggles within the University.
Organized by the Associated Students External Vice President of Statewide Affairs, the event took place at HSSB 1174 and encouraged Gauchos to apply for the Student Regent position while also enlightening attendees on the concerns regarding all 10 UC campuses. The Isla Vista Food Cooperative provided food and refreshments as Flores kicked off the event with a PowerPoint presentation describing the prestigious position and its general requirements.
Flores, who received her B.A. in political science at UCLA and is currently studying law at UC Irvine, said the job’s most pressing requirement is combating ongoing budgetary constraints to ensure a quality UC education remains accessible to as many students as possible.
To fulfill such duties, Flores said she utilizes social media platforms to spread university news, particularly high-profile incidents and issues such as the struggle to pass Proposition 30 last November, which prevented mid-year tuition hikes.
One issue that drew a considerable amount of attention from Flores was the progression of the new online education program, which she said was not created with the consultation and input of students. Furthermore, such input is necessary for the success and fairness of UC initiatives, according to Flores, who said the recent Campus Climate Study does this efficiently by directly asking students and other university members about the environment of UC campuses.
“The Campus Climate survey is an attempt to see what campus climate issues are emerging in the UC campuses,” Flores said. “Diversity issues are going to be a big part of next year’s issues.”
According to Flores, the student regent job does have many benefits but can be trying and thus, interested applicants should be prepared to deal with how the job will affect their lives.
“This job can be all-consuming of your life. It’s important to set boundaries on what you will and will not do,” Flores said. “I took on this job because I am extremely passionate and committed to these issues.”
Many students at the event voiced their concerns regarding the affordability and accessibility of a UC education. Sydney Bennet, a second-year political science and economics major, said the UC should take focus to these issues since the current demographic make-up of UC campuses may be threatened otherwise.
“I think that our financial issues are preventing us from providing the top quality of education,” Bennet said. “I think that without the UCs being accessible to minority students, it compromises the experience that all students get. It prevents the diverse and eye-opening experience of college.”
Student Regent Recruitment Coordinator Miles Ashlock said the position has the potential to influence the UC system for years to come, along with bringing the student community and UC administration together.
“I think many people recognize that this is a pivotal time for our university,” Ashlock said. “The student regent is in a position to influence our university not only for current students but for future generations of Californians. I think that the most important aspect of the position is that without it, and without a local, passionate, tireless incumbent, students won’t have a clear voice at the senior-most discussions in the system.”
Ashlock also commented on Flores’s qualifications, saying she will succeed current Student Regent Jonathan Stein well.
“I think Cinthia has done an excellent job of highlighting the fact that a person who’s acting with our student community in mind will be the most effective student regent.”
Flores also touched on financial aid, saying that a third of tuition revenues must go into financial aid funds for the next year. She and Stein also plan on expanding the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan — a program which aids California residents whose families earn less than $80,000 a year — by extending the program to include those who make $100,000 to $120,000.
Applications for the position are due Feb. 28 and results will be released mid-May 2013.
A version of this article appeared on page 1 of February 4th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.