UC Regents Chair George Kieffer met with students on April 10 to discuss his positions on a variety of topics in order to increase transparency between the UC Regents and students at UC San Diego.
Kieffer discussed the Regents’ commitment to diversity, student housing, divestment from Israel and fossil fuels, and lack of student representation to the UC Regents with UCSD student journalists and Associated Students of UCSD Vice President of External Affairs Refilwe Gqajela.
Kieffer affirmed the strong commitment to diversity and claims that diversity is the issue the Regents talk about the most. He agrees with UC President’s Scholar Theresa Ambo, who said in the Campaign for College Opportunity study on diversity that students feel empowered to pursue higher education when they have professors that look like them.
“We have to work better at the pipeline for faculty so we have people who are getting, sort of as a chicken and an egg, we want to move people through high school, college, and graduate programs so they can become faculty that really match California,” Kieffer said.
Despite student complaints, Gqajela mentioned that the UCSD housing model has been praised by Chancellor Pradeep Khosla and members of the UC Office of the President. In response, Regent Kieffer expressed willingness to address the housing problems with Chancellor Khosla.
“I think it would be fair to say that I am pretty open to addressing any issues,” Kieffer said at one point. “It doesn’t mean I agree with everybody who comes or I have to agree in order to listen and make sure I’m hearing.”
Gqajela argued that many students feel that the UC system’s investment in Israel is antithetical to the its values and commitments as a higher education institution to then invest in a country with human rights violations. The Black Student Coalition was able to get a record of all UC investments. They found that the UC system is invested in Israel either directly or through companies that support Israel.
“I’m not in favor of [divestment from Israel], I think that that’s the wrong way to approach it,” Kieffer said. “I don’t want to follow every political choice that the country is addressing with a regental choice that matches it in some way.”
While discussing student advocacy on the Board of Regents, The Triton’s News Editor Gabriel Schneider asked how many students Regent Kieffer felt would be appropriate to have on the Board of Regents. Kieffer said that he feels only one voice is needed for the Regents to hear the students’ voice.
“We have one Student Regent, one Student Regent Designate, one Advisor, “ Kieffer stated. “I think we get a pretty good take on what the student opinion is.”
Currently, the Board has one student out of 26 voting members and two students that serve in non-voting roles.
“This [the Board of Regents] is not a representative government. The interests are not the students that are here today,” Kieffer said. “It’s the students who graduated, it’s the students who are gonna come in the future, it’s the research enterprise, it’s the economic enterprise, it’s a long-term view on the health and welfare of the university.”
In a follow-up interview, Gqajela said that the attitude of administrators is that it is the University’s job to fix an issue until the issue is something administrators do not agree with. She feels that the meeting with Kieffer was productive because she was able to find out his agenda.
“In the meeting, he said he addressed all the issues I brought up and I realized it,” Gqajela said. “Oh, I get it, you just don’t care about our issues.”
Ethan Coston is an Assistant News Editor for The Triton. You can follow him @Ethan4Books. Assistance in research and writing for this article was provided by Gabe Schneider.