ASA asks Hull to diversify regents
Student leaders from the three Arizona universities are pushing to see future members of the Arizona Board of Regents more accurately reflect the state's ethnic diversity.
"Just as the social, economic and demographic make-up of our state and universities continue to grow in diversity, so too must the make-up of our citizen board," stated a letter to Arizona Gov. Jane Hull from the student presidents of the universities.
Of the 11 members currently on the governing board for Arizona universities, none are minorities.
During a June retreat in Flagstaff, members of the Arizona Students' Association discussed the openings on the board. They agreed at the meeting that the positions should be filled by people of varying race and gender, said Associated Students President Cisco Aguilar.
"It needs to reflect the make-up of the state," Aguilar said.
Hull, a Republican, is responsible for appointing members to the Board of Regents. Rudy Campbell and John Munger, who have sat on the Board for 16 and eight years, respectively, have recently resigned their positions.
ASA Executive Director Sam Leyvas said the letter is a response to Hull's philosophy of filling appointed positions with a more diverse ethnic representation.
"We share these thoughts with you, recognizing your demonstrated commitment to diversifying the selection of appointees to public office," ASA officials wrote in the letter.
Leyvas said he supported the opinion of the members of ASA, which includes students enrolled at the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University.
"The student body presidents recognized Governor Hull's commitment to a more diverse representation of the state. They wanted to let her know that they support this commitment," he said.
According to Leyvas, the student leaders of ASA feared that the regents may become too homogenous. Without a minority representation, a large portion of the university community would not be properly reflected, he said.
Other ASA officials expressed similar sentiments.
"By looking at the make-up the current Board of Regents, we feel that the cultural diversity is lacking," said Paul Peterson, Northern Arizona University's student body president.
Aguilar explained that the 12 ASA members hope the potential future appointments of minority and female members will be the first step in further diversifying the regents.
"As such, it is vitally important that the board of regents grows to reflect our state's increasing diversity," the ASA letter stated.
UA President Peter Likins had not yet seen a copy of the letter last night but discussed the situation with Aguilar earlier and said that he supports the statement.
"I applaud that," Likins said. "The governor welcomes that kind of input."
Likins added that while diversity is an important issue for the board, the first priority is finding someone who can handle the heavy responsibility that comes with being a regent.