UC Student Regent Jesse Cheng, found guilty of sexual battery by the UC Irvine Office of Student Conduct in March, has finally resigned. Despite a series of protests calling for him to step down, Cheng refused to do so. He appears to have had a change of heart, as today he released the following open letter announcing his resignation. He’s given up the “I didn’t do it” line, swapping it for the following:
I respect the decision of the Student Conduct Process, no matter how much I disagree with the findings. It is a much lower standard of evidence than a criminal court, but I also recognize that the process nevertheless applies to me as a student.
That’s the only reference to the alleged sexual battery in his multi-paragraph message. With students across the state, we say good riddance!
Dear Fellow Students,
It is with great regret that I write this letter to announce that I have tendered my resignation as the Student Regent of the University of California. My regret partially stems from my choice to resign before the May Regents meeting, which would have been my last Regent meeting; and also the inability to finish my service to a student body and UC community which has given me so much. But I make this decision today because I believe it is part of my obligation and what I owe to the students who have supported me, to ensure that students have a full and powerful voice at the Board of Regents, and do what is best for the student community.
I respect the decision of the Student Conduct Process, no matter how much I disagree with the findings. It is a much lower standard of evidence than a criminal court, but I also recognize that the process nevertheless applies to me as a student. My main focus and motivation has always been for students to feel that they have a full and powerful voice on the Board of Regents. Seeing how it will be my last meeting as a Student Regent, and how much of a distraction from other serious student issues that this issue has continued to cause, I think it would be best for the students and the University of California if I step down at this time. Along the same lines of pushing for students to have a powerful voice at the table, I have confirmed that Alfredo Mireles, the Student Regent-designate, will be able to utilize my vote on the Board of Regents next week. I feel confident that with Alfredo speaking as the full Student Regent, students will continue to have a full voice and vote at the table. Whether or not I continue as a Student Regent, I think that will always be the most important issue.
I would like to take the liberty to thank all the leaders and activists who have taken their time to work with me and fight for an affordable, accessible, and quality UC. They have been students, staff, faculty, and UC administration, and I owe them all a great debt of gratitude. As students, we faced extremely difficult challenges these last two years, including one of the largest fee increases in the university’s history and one of the largest fiscal crises in the state’s. However, we also launched one of the largest grassroots mobilizations in the country, with well over ten thousand students, staff, faculty, and workers walking out to send a clear message to decision-makers and legislators about the importance of a college education. I am proud to have been there to witness such a powerful moment for higher education. In this past year, through difficult challenges, we’ve been able to win small victories. Student activists worked hard to urge the university to look at diversity models to improve campus climate, and recently gained two student representatives on the UC’s Investment Advisory Group, allowing students to gain a wider perspective and voice. Perhaps most importantly, this year the Board of Regents approved a resolution pushing for all campuses to adopt a holistic admissions model, a model that will produce a more fair and balanced admissions process for future UC students. It is a victory that students have been seeking for years, and it was an honor to see the University take such a strong stance on balanced admissions practices. It has been an honor to support the leadership of students who have advocated across the system these past two years.
I have tried to serve the students and the University of California to the best of my ability for the last two years, and I thank the students for giving me this opportunity and privilege. At the end of the day, I want to recognize it is a privilege to serve, not a right. I am stepping down now because I think it is the right decision, and the best way for the students to have a powerful voice at the table, for the student movement to move forward without distraction, and for the University of California to face the challenges we have before us.
Respectfully Yours in Service and Friendship,