UC Berkeley senior Sadia Saifuddin says a priority as a student regent will… (Justin Sayarath )
A UC Berkeley senior who majors in social welfare and has been active in student government and Mideast issues is expected to become the next University of California student regent, joining the board that sets policies for the 10-campus system.
A special regents committee has nominated Sadia Saifuddin, 21, of Stockton to be the student regent in 2014-15. Confirmation by the full Board of Regents is expected next month. For the next year, Saifuddin would be a regent-designate, able to participate in all discussions but without voting rights until her one-year term as a fully empowered student representative begins in July 2014, officials said.
The daughter of immigrants from Pakistan, Saifuddin said she applied for the position because she comes "from a legacy of people that have fought really hard for education and made so many sacrifices along the way. I have the privilege to go to a UC because of the struggles of my ancestors. Serving on the Board of Regents gives me an opportunity to pay that forward."
Saifuddin said a priority would be keeping tuition from increasing again. "We need to stabilize tuition levels so that students can plan more adequately for their future and focus on school, rather than worry about increased student debt or working that extra job," she said, explaining that she has had to take additional jobs to help pay for her education.
An observant Muslim, Saifuddin is thought to be the first Muslim who would serve as student regent. "My faith is a big part of my life. What I love the most about Islam is that it preaches tolerance and love, which is the reason that I have close friends and networks outside of the Muslim community as well. Growing up, I was taught to service this world in whatever way I could, and for me that means reaching out and learning about the narratives of all communities and finding common ground to unite on," she said.
Saifuddin has been a senator in UC Berkeley's student government and founded a UC systemwide committee seeking to improve conditions on campus for minority students. She was co-sponsor of a controversial student Senate resolution that called for the UC system to divest companies that do business with the Israeli military in its occupation of Palestinian territory; the UC Berkeley student Senate narrowly passed that nonbinding resolution in April after an emotional debate.
The student regent for 2013-14 is Cinthia Flores, a law student from UC Irvine. Leaving the regents board is Jonathan Stein, who recently earned joint UC Berkeley degrees in law and public policy.