Student Regent-Designate Hayley Weddle: “I Vowed to Become an Engaged Student”

Photo taken by John Weng and provided by Hayley Weddle.

This summer, some members of The Triton had the opportunity to interview Student Regent-designate to the UC Board of Regents, Hayley Weddle.

As Student Regent-designate, Weddle will spend a year shadowing Student Regent Devon Graves and participating in Regents meetings, but she will not have a vote until she becomes Student Regent in July 2019.

Weddle is a third-year doctoral student in the Education Department. Throughout the interview, she stressed student advocacy and working to advance the interests of UC students.

As there were only around 40 applications for Student Regent last year, Weddle hopes to see many more applications for her position in the future.

1. Tell us about what got you into student advocacy.

I attended UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) as an undergrad. I was there from 2007 to 2011. I majored in Sociology and Accounting. I really thought I was going to be an accountant, but it’s not a match for my personality.

In my senior year at UCSB, I was doing some really heavy thinking about what I want the rest of my career to look like if it’s not going to be accounting. I was working at the tutoring center on campus and that was what I really loved to do. So I thought, well, I need to find a way to parlay working with college students into a job and that’s when I learned about the field of student affairs.

I didn’t know that that was a field with a title until I started asking around the people that I spent a lot of time with at UCSB: “How did you get this job? How do you work full-time at UCSB?” And people were telling me it’s a field and you can get a master’s in education.

I quickly applied to grad school and entered my master’s program at San Diego State University (SDSU) in higher education leadership with an emphasis in student affairs. At SDSU, I got really lucky because the program wanted everyone to work in some sort of student affairs setting part-time while getting the master’s, and I got placed at UC San Diego in student life.

I really fell in love with the campus. Throughout the master’s program, I really developed some strong relationships here on campus and I knew if I could get a full-time job, that would be the dream.

I applied to be the advisor of Associated Students (AS) on campus. Oh my gosh, that job was the best years of my life! So challenging, so much work, pulling 50, 60, 65, 70 hours a week sometimes because of all the students were doing, and I loved it! I just wanted to be present for all of the various programming that my students were doing at the time.

I spent a lot of time supporting students’ travels to lobbying efforts across the system, working with the Women’s Commission on sexual violence and sexual harassment-type programming, and collaborating with other departments on campus.

Ultimately I realized there was a major crossroads for me, wondering, “Should I stay in this job that I love so much? Or should I try to go back to school and get my Ph.D and pursue more of an academic and policy career?”

I applied to a brand new Ph.D program on campus, a Ph.D in education titled Transforming Education in a Diverse Society. It is super equity-focused, really progressive, very different than a lot of the education programs currently in the country. It’s really trying to take away this notion of the ivory tower and push its students and faculty to only engage in research that is in close partnership with practitioners or even students.

2. How did you become involved on campus once you became a grad student?

I vowed to myself that I would become an engaged student on campus just like all the undergrads [I] had worked with for four years. I got very closely involved with the GSA (Graduate Student Association) and continue to serve on a bunch of committees.

Probably the most important thing I did when I worked for AS [was] help create the Food Pantry with the undergrads who were serving in leadership roles. I got really engaged with system-wide efforts around food and housing insecurity as a staff member. As a graduate student, I’m a co-chair of our campus’ basic needs committee.

I had the opportunity last year to be on the system-wide Title IX Advisory Board, which is brand new. The fact that the board exists is a huge step in the right direction towards having more student involvement in these high-level policy decisions.

I may be stepping down because of my Student Regent role. I want to make sure whoever is in the Title IX Advisory Board role is able to fully be focused on that.

Since the interview, Weddle stepped down from her positions on the Student Fee Advisory Committee and the Graduate Student Association, but decided to keep her position on the UC System-Wide Title IX Advisory Board to see pending policy reforms through the end of the revision process.

3. What is your take on issues undocumented students face? How much do you know about the needs of that community, considering that some try to advocate for communities without consulting with them first?

It’s a community that’s really important to me. I was on campus when the Undocumented Student Services’ first coordinator was hired, so I’ve seen a lot of positive change in regards to creating infrastructure at UCSD to support undocumented students.

I think this is a really great example of how important it is to always make sure our work is in alignment with the communities we’re working on behalf of. Instead of working for students, we should always try to work more with them.

Zooming out, I have seen that be an issue [advocating for communities without their input] both on campus and system-wide for folks with really good intentions who are trying to advocate for addressing inequity, but then not having the community as involved in those efforts as it should be.

I think it’s an ongoing challenge, but it’s one that I want to be really mindful of as I’m entering this role; making sure that my efforts are always dialed back in with the key stakeholders that deserve to be involved.

4. What’s the selection process for Student Regent?

That process is really well-laid out and involves a lot of student input, as it should because it’s the Student Regent. Applications go live around November—the first step is a paper application. Then there is the first round of interviews [in March].

Any student undergrad or grad student across the 10 campuses is eligible to apply. It’s pretty staggering to think that [there are] almost 300,000 students and it’s just the one voting role.

I was interviewed by a committee of Southern undergrad and grad student leaders [students from Southern California UC schools]. Then the second round is with UCSA (UC Student Association). UCSA used to have more of a grad presence, so this year they needed to incorporate folks from UCGPC (UC Graduate and Professional Council).

From that interview, three people got forwarded to a Regent selection committee that is comprised of four Regents, including the outgoing student Regent, and the UCSA president. Then they pick one.

The other challenging thing is you have to be in the system for two more years. I had undergrads apply and tell me about about their journeys through the process. It was hard for them because by the time some of them were ready to apply, they also had enough units to graduate.

5. Do you know anything about the Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs hiring process? I’m concerned about student forums being held over summer when most students aren’t on campus.

I’m on that hiring committee. I’m going to be really candid with you that I expressed that I’m not comfortable with student forums happening over summer. Some folks on the committee felt strongly that there are enough students here over summer to get enough student input.

My stance was that I think it would be much more desirable to do it during the quarter and also not week 10 or finals week, as those are just historically not great. Additionally even when they’re [the forums] during the school year, they’re during the day and that’s competing with work, not just class, but also with work for students.

Note: This is not an interview transcript. Questions and responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Ethan Coston is an Assistant News Editor for The Triton. You can follow him @Ethan4Books