Regents tap Berkeley junior for student seat

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs



Dexter Ligot-Gordon
Noah Berger photo

22 August 2001 | Though a velvet rope is all that separates the UC regents from spectators at their board meetings, it seemed a formidable barrier, at first, for Dexter Ligot-Gordon.

The newly nominated student regent says he was stopped by police when he tried to join his colleagues, inside the rope, at the July regents’ meeting in San Francisco.

“I didn’t know where the regents were supposed to enter, so I went through the front of the auditorium like everyone else,” said Ligot-Gordon, a junior majoring in political economy of industrial societies. “After I was patted down and walked through a metal detector, I went to move the rope, but was immediately confronted by security.”

Although the regents’ secretary intervened to escort him through, the incident underscored for Ligot-Gordon the distance between this new world and the one he’s known.

“It’s an atmosphere I’ve never been a part of,” the 21-year-old Vallejo native said of the board. “The regents are privileged, wealthy and some of the state’s most powerful people. I’m someone who drives a car with 250,000 miles on it.”

The board of regents is expected to confirm Ligot-Gordon’s nomination at its meeting in September. If it does, he will become a student regent-designate, allowing him to participate in all deliberations, without voting privileges, until July 2002, when his one-year term as student regent begins.

He was chosen for the position from among 100 UC student applicants and would be the seventh student regent from the Berkeley campus. The post was established in 1975.

The role of student regent — which he describes as “the ultimate advocate position” — fits well with Ligot-Gordon’s commitment to serving the community.

During his years on campus, he has campaigned on behalf of minority students, particularly those of Filipino decent.

Ligot-Gordon has been part of a coalition of students committed to maintaining diversity on the UC campuses and vocally opposed to SP-1 and SP-2. Those UC policies, banning consideration of race and sex in admissions, hiring and contracting, were rescinded by the regents in May.

He doesn’t plan to change his loyalties once he’s on the board.

“I don’t see myself becoming part of the ‘machine’ or losing my perspective,” he said. “To me, it’s like having one foot on the dock and one in the boat. This position gives me an opportunity to articulate issues for both sides and provide a more complete picture for each group.”

“Dexter is open to the viewpoints of all interested parties and he understands the importance of good communication and diplomatic relationships,” said Pamela Burnett, director of undergraduate admissions, who serves with Ligot-Gordon on the committee that sets Berkeley’s undergraduate admissions policy. “These traits are most valuable in a student regent.”

Among the topics on the regents’ fall agenda, Ligot-Gordon predicts, is Tidal Wave II, the projected influx of students to the UC system over the next decade.

“I want to ensure that any changes we make to accommodate growth are equitable and accessible to all,” he said. “Take the increased need for housing; those who will be most impacted by this are low-income or minority students. Steps must be taken to make sure these students are not left out.”

Ligot-Gordon, who plans on becoming a teacher after graduating, is also concerned that whether current classes will be expanded or new ones created to keep up with demand, and with funding for the humanities.

“There’s money in Governor Davis’ budget for science initiatives,” he said, “but in addition to cutting-edge technology, we also need more English teachers and ethnic studies programs.”

Ligot-Gordon’s activism stems in part from his experience in Vallejo counseling and mentoring at-risk Filipino teenagers, encouraging them to go to college and get involved in local government.

On campus, he works hard to recruit and retain Filipino students and give voice to this group.

“Part of my mission as a regent is to increase the visibility of my people,” he said. “This is not my sole agenda, but I’m still connected to this community despite my position.”


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Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.
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