University of California students have until Feb. 18 to apply for a position on the Board of Regents for 2011-12.

The yearly tradition of appointing a student regent began in 1975, when Californians passed Proposition 4, an amendment to the state constitution that allows a UC student to serve as a voting member on the board. Carol Mock, a UCSB political science major, was the first student regent.

Applicants undergo a rigorous selection process beginning in March and culminating with the appointment of one student regent in July. Once appointed, the student regent will serve for one year as “regent-designate,” a non-voting position which is basically a one-year orientation process for the new member. After his or her first year as a regent-designate, the student regent becomes a full-fledged voting member of the board.

Jesse Cheng, a UCI Asian-American Studies major, is this year’s regent-designate.

“I applied for the student regent because I wanted to help the communities of the UC any way I could,” Cheng said. “In this incredibly difficult time we have to really watch out for the families and students that are hurting, hear them and their stories, and make sure we fight for them on the front lines.”

The UC Board of Regents consists of 26 members: 18 full-time members appointed by the governor to 12-year terms, 7 ex-officio members (including the governor and the UC president), and one student regent who serves a one-year term. The board meets every two months to discuss issues such as UC investments, admissions and student fees.

“This is a crazy and unique time for the University,” Cheng said, “They really need students, faculty, staff, and workers who care about the UC and who are in the know to step up and take responsibility.”

The student regent must be a full-time student in good standing at any of the UC campuses. Applicants must submit a resume and an online application, which can be found at

Regent-designates and student regents are provided with a campus office, UC tuition and student fees, and are compensated for in-state travel to board meetings.

“[Being a student regent] is an experience that is not duplicated anywhere else in the University,” Cheng said. “You will be sitting at the table with some of the most influential voices in the state, and be asked for your perspective and opinion.”

The student regent for 2009-10, Jesse Bernal, is a doctoral candidate in education at UCSB. Bernal and Cheng are visiting all 10 UC campuses on a recruiting tour to find the next student regent.