Students, such as Student Regent Cinthia Flores — who disapproved of Napolitano’s appointment — were strongly concerned with Napolitano’s time as governor, citing the record number of deportations of undocumented immigrants during her term. Others, such as UC Student Association President Kareem Aref, have also expressed concerns with her role as the Secretary of Homeland Security, stating, “Students are concerned that her presidency may be accompanied by a militarization of the UC.”
On Oct. 1, UCLA’s Undergraduate Student Association Council (USAC) unanimously passed a resolution addressed to the president which included a “list of demands” compiled by students from multiple UC campuses. The list demanded “mandatory annual sensitivity training for UCPD to mitigate racial profiling,” the promotion of general educational courses about the experiences of undocumented students, and the prevention of federal immigration laws from being implemented on UC campuses.
Some USAC members originally intended to vote “no-confidence” for Napolitano, but ultimately decided not to proceed with the clause and settled on simply passing the bill with a list of demands. Soon after the resolution was passed, Napolitano scheduled a meeting with UCLA students and officials on Oct. 11 to discuss some of their concerns.
On Thursday, Oct. 3, Napolitano also toured UC Merced, marking her first-ever visit to a UC campus as president. Prior to that day, the UC president also briefly met with 12 students to discuss the concerns of both documented and undocumented students. Student Regent Cinthia Flores and Student Regent-Designate Sadia Saifuddin were among those Napolitano met with.
“It was a productive opening discussion in what I hope will be an ongoing dialogue with students,” Napolitano said after the meeting.
In the beginning of October, Napolitano also received numerous letters from various groups and organizations around the state. Ten assembly members and state senators penned a letter to the president, voicing their concerns over the “inequitable treatment” of service workers at UC, who are “overwhelmingly immigrants or people of color.” The letter read: “We write to share our concern about recent decisions made by UC administrators resulting in unequal treatment for job classifications dominated by non-white employees.”
The new UC president also received a letter from the UC Student Body Presidents Council, which consists of 21 undergraduate and graduate student body presidents from each UC campus. In that letter, student body members stated, “we ask that your efforts to meet real students not be perfunctory — we ask for real, substantive collaboration.”
Napolitano stated that she plans on visiting the remaining UC campuses to further discuss students’ concerns.