By Julia Schemmer
ICYMI: UC Regents Speak On Basic Needs Insecurity, Board Restructure, and Campus Safety
The summertime might be heating up, but the conversations at the bimonthly July Regents meeting were even hotter. From July 19-21, the UC Regents gathered at the UCSF Conference Center to discuss a range of top-priority issues such as basic needs insecurity, board restructure, and campus safety. Although it might seem like these meetings are endless discussions about abstract ideas, often they impact our experiences as students more than what they are given credit for. Check out what you missed at the July UC Regents meeting!
Basic Needs Insecurity
According to the 2016 Student Food Access and Food Security Study, 42% of UC students have experienced a reduced quality of diet or reduced food intake within the last 12 months. Although President Janet Napolitano’s initial grant through the Global Food Initiative sparked hope across campuses dealing with disproportionate amounts of food insecurity, it was clear through survey results and student narratives that additional sustainable funding sources were needed to alleviate the issue. The UC Office of the President is responding to the survey results through a revised plan to address food insecurity, including expanding food pantry storage and access, registering more eligible students for CalFresh, and enhancing financial aid communication about food and housing costs.
These results are a clear indicator of the strength that unified students have in collectively addressing the issues within our own experiences as students. However, it’s vital to recognize that students are not the only people within the University of California institution affected by basic needs insecurity, as faculty and staff members boldly shared their heartbreaking stories as a public comment. If we want to be liberated collectively, we must also remember the other people who are not given the same amount of resources and help towards the issue.
In the May UC Regents meeting, a proposal was presented that would dramatically change the structure of the UC Board of Regents. The ten original standing committees have been reduced to six, with special committees dedicated to community engagement and student affairs. Chancellors will now serve on the committees as well, providing them with an opportunity to be more engaged with the activities of the Board.
The plan was approved during the July meeting, despite doubts that this would give people ‘too much power.’ Moving forward, this is exciting for UC students, as we are given further opportunities to represent ourselves in the governing body of the university.
Speaking of student engagement, the 2016-2017 Student Regent Designate, Paul Monge, was officially approved as a member of the UC Board of Regents. This year, he will work alongside the Student Regent, Marcela Ramirez, to advocate for first generation college students, graduate students, faculty diversity, and campus climate. It’s going to be a great year with two fearless freedom fighters, and we’re excited to see how students can change the conversations on the Board for good.
On June 1st, 2016, UCLA was attacked by an on-campus shooter, who tragically took the life of Professor William Klug before taking his own. The shooting, which was the 186th school shooting in the United States since Sandy Hook, marked frustration with the student body, as students had to use belts and projector cables to lock the doors and remain safe.
As a result. Chancellor Block (UCLA) spoke on the efforts that his campus is carrying out to create a culture of safety. Not only is the current BruinAlert system being reevaluated for effectiveness, but a specific task force has been created to create intersectional and intentional preventative strategies towards addressing acts of campus violence, disaster prevention, and emergency response.
President Janet Napolitano, in her opening remarks, gave her respects to the UCLA professor and the UC Berkeley students killed in acts of terror while studying abroad. Chancellor Dirks (UC Berkeley) continued to stare down at his iPad, probably playing Pokemon Go, while his own students were killed.
As conversations surrounding the crux of the UC student experience continue to come to light, it’s necessary to remember the value of our voice in shifting conversations, developing dialogues, and creating tangible action. As the Regents prepare to meet again in September, let’s remind them who they are accountable to: the students.
Julia Schemmer is a second-year student from UC Riverside, studying Public Policy. Her goal is simple: to put the ‘lit’ back into politics.