The first student regent to serve on the University of California Board of Regents, selected in 1975, hailed from UC Santa Barbara.
Carol Mock, a fourth-year political science major at the time of her appointment, was “the first student ever to become a board member in the institution’s 107 year history, and came as a result of passage of Proposition 4 in last November’s election,” a 1975 Daily Nexus article read.
“I think the student regent position is a step forward in communications between students and Regents. Instead of only being able to make testimony from outside of-the Board and offer opinion, there’s also a voice from within the Board,” Mock said in the 1975 interview.
Since then, 45 UC students have served on the Board of Regents as student regents. The student regent is the only voting member of the UC Regents who is a student; a new student regent is chosen by the board each year.
While students from all UC campuses have been encouraged to apply each year, an overwhelming proportion of the student regents have come from UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles and UC Davis.
Students were apparently concerned about the possibility of disproportionate representation during the inaugural round of student regent applications, according to a Nexus article.
“No bias will be shown to applicants from larger campuses as UC Berkeley or UCLA, Tuttle maintains,” the Nexus article published on April 15, 1975, quoting UCSB’s Associated Students External Vice President Kathy Tuttle, read.
An analysis of all 45 student regents’ education backgrounds finds that many of the student regents nominated tend to be graduate students, primarily hail from UCLA, UC Berkeley or UC Davis and typically study law, political science or education.
The student regent nominated this year, who will serve as a nonvoting student regent-designate for one year before gaining voting abilities, is Jamaal Muwwakkil, a UCSB doctoral student studying linguistics.
After being selected from a pool of 113 applicants, Muwwakkil will be the 46th student regent if approved by the board at the UC Regents’ July meeting.
Muwwakkil attributes this year’s large number of applicants, compared to 40 last year, to the outreach work by Student Regent Devon Graves and Student Regent-Designate Hayley Weddle over the past few years — something he hopes to continue in the position himself.
“[They] did a great job of being visible in that regard and encouraging folks, a lot of folks who would have applied anyway, but a lot of folks who would not have applied otherwise, to engage in the process,” Muwwakkil said.
“For me [113 is] the benchmark. We’ll see if we can increase that number, ‘cause I think there’s a lot that people have to contribute that are not typically in these types of conversations and don’t typically apply to these types of positions,” he said.
“I think we’re better if we can engage that and make it more competitive next year.”
Muwwakkil attributes this same reasoning to the high concentration of UCLA or UC Berkeley students as student regents in previous years.
“Certain jobs, certain spaces, kind of self-select for certain types of students, and I think that that’s fair to consider. The other side of that is, we got 10 campuses of the UC, and a lot of them are very different,” he said.
“It’s a lot of different majors, lot of different career trajectories, lots of different aspirations, and these different perspectives that come from the campus space and the discipline space are valid. I like that I’m at UCSB. I like that I get to represent a UCSB frame.”
Muwwakkil’s goal in prioritizing students who are not traditionally represented comes from his belief that the system always benefits when a diverse array of voices are heard.
Not only does it benefit students who transfer from community colleges to receive mentoring and guidance, but universities also benefit from their knowledge, drive and character, he emphasized.
“I think we should always be mindful of if we’re kind of having a lopsided kind of pool from any specific category, whether that’s from a couple different schools, a couple different disciplines, we should be aware of that, and see if we can intervene in some ways and make sure that we’re getting the broadest benefit from the student base that we have available.”