Associated Students President Sophia Armen received no response from a letter to the UC Board of Regents requesting that their next meeting be held at UCSB and for a reply to be sent back to her by 5 p.m. yesterday.
The letter, which was sent by Armen this past Friday, called on the Regents to hold their May 13 to 14 meeting at a Southern California UC campus — namely UCSB — in order to allow for a greater spectrum of students to voice their concerns during public forum. In response to the Regent’s lack of communication, the AS Office of the Present will be hosting a call to action on campus in the Arbor from noon to 1 p.m. as well as collecting signatures appealing to all AS Presidents at other UC campuses.
Armen said the lack of Regent response is one small indicator of an overarching trend of disconnect in Regent-to-student cooperation.
“Lack of response is the problem, but it’s also part of something larger,” Armen said. “It’s an issue if they won’t even answer e-mails from the student body president. If they won’t even respond to the A.S. student body president of a UC, how is the average student supposed to have their voice heard?”
According to Student Regent-designate Cinthia Flores, Armen’s request is not unwarranted, as the Regents have often traveled to various campuses in the UC system to hold meetings in recent years. However, Flores also said that due to financial and safety issues, Regent presence at a Southern California campus is “plausible, but not probable.”
“I raised this issue with the board and their primary concern is expenses,” Flores said. “Seeing as UCOP is located in Oakland and the board meetings are usually facilitated over the presence of many UCOP staff members, it would be financially straining to have members of the UCOP basically travel to a Southern California campus.”
According to Armen, however, students who have reached out to Regents in the past have seen no reply, despite an expressed willingness to work in a clear and open dialogue.
“Regents have historically not responded to students, and that’s the problem we’re addressing,” Armen said. “This is a way to question the transparency and accountability of the Board of Regents. This is an open invitation. It’s all about being accommodating. We’re here to listen to Regents, but it also needs to be two-way street.”
According to Flores, though finances are the primary deterrent preventing Regents from making the journey to a Southern California campus, fear of student demonstration also factors in.
“I don’t know if the Board is particularly excited about holding meetings where they could potentially be disrupted, withheld or held captive given the history of some of the very politically engaged students that have come to Board meetings in past,” Flores said. “The propensity of having a much more active and engaged student body manifesting their beliefs in terms of protests or rallies, may also play a role in them not wanting to be at Southern California campus.”
However, Armen said requesting Regent presence on campus is an important move toward upholding the Regents to shared governance, allowing students to voice their redresses at public forum which is now structurally set up in an inaccessible manner at UC San Francisco.
“Saying it’s because of security concerns is always an excuse and always the scapegoat,” Armen said. “It’s an insult to not even be responded to. It’s an insult to student decision making and student power. This letter is the beginning of addressing bigger issues.”
A.S. External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Nadim Houssain also said the Regents should be upheld to share governance and confronted for their negligence to the greater student body.
“They’re probably going to have some concern to student protests that will most likely take place, but it doesn’t hurt to try,” Houssain said. “If we don’t try to reach out to them, we have no excuse to be frustrated that they remain in NorCal, so far away from schools here in Southern California, making it difficult for students in this region to attend.”
Flores said if the request came to fruition, it would allow many more students from different parts of the UC system to come to Board meetings, make public comment and provide the Board with perspectives outside the usual repertoire of student leaders.
“I think UCSB’s President is making a very direct ask, but the more students that ask the Regents to visit a Southern California campus, the more they would have to respond,” Flores said. “If a large number of students ask that a Southern California campus host a UC Regents Board meeting, I think that there is no alternative, they would have to make the conscious and good faith effort to hold a meeting at a Southern California campus.”
According to UCOP spokesperson Dianne Klein, the possibility of a Regent meeting outside UCSF is within reach.
“While most meetings take place at the Mission Bay campus of UCSF, the board occasionally travels to other campuses or other locations in the state,” Klein said. “If a request is made, the board will consider it.”