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University of Alaska student regent receives calls for resignation after sending a ‘love letter’ to all students

University of Alaska Board of Regents members Cachet Garrett, far left, listens to public comment on September 12, 2019. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Some University of Alaska students are calling for the resignation of the student regent following a lengthy email she sent this week to more than 30,000 students titled, “A love letter from your student regent, Cachet.”

Cachet Garrett sits on the University of Alaska Board of Regents and was appointed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy in May 2019. Her nearly 4,300-word email sent to students Monday includes her views on her position as a regent and a description of her goals.

It also includes wide-ranging personal narrative — covering her personality traits, background at UA and various life experiences, such as her study of yoga and tantra — and language about mental health that students have since called inappropriate. The email elicited a strong response from many students, both on and off social media.

One portion of the email drawing the most attention involved self-care and suicide prevention.

“I BOLDLY charge you all to connect with me, and I charge you all with the great task of self-care, not only in this year (in this very critical year in the history of our universities), but always,” Garrett wrote. “And with this I must humbly, vulnerably, and bravely request of you all, please dear ones, NO MORE SUICIDING. ... If you feel you are at risk in this vulnerable area, please reach out for help. As bad as things do get sometimes, admittedly, the cup does pass. A new day does come, and you do belong here.”

Garrett also discouraged criticism of the university system.

“It is at this point which I must express the urgency of ceasing ANY negative talk around our beloved university system,” she wrote. “Instead, engage your tools, engage the power of prayer, and lift up our universities and their leaders, please; the UA system needs loving and tender care right now, as do we all.”

“It was just very bizarre,” University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate student Bradley Morton said of the email. “A lot of it is rambling nonsense and a lot of it is also really inappropriate content to be sending to 30,000 people.”

Morton called in to a Board of Regents session to testify about Garrett’s email Monday evening, saying he was “deeply concerned” and that the email “comes off as an unhinged, drunken rant.”

Morton and at least one other student called for Garrett’s resignation, and others also testified to express dismay at the tone and content of the email.

Garrett did not respond to an email or phone calls requesting comment. The governor’s office also did not respond to requests for comment.

Regent Chair Sheri Buretta sent out a response to Garrett’s email Monday evening after the public testimony.

“Members of the Board of Regents must hold themselves to the highest standards in representing the entire University of Alaska system. Regents work diligently to add value to the university through all that they do and say. Regent Cachet Garrett has the right as a student and as a person to express her opinions. However, she does not speak for the Board or the University, and the tone and content of her emailed letter to the student body do not reflect the sentiments of the Board,” Buretta said.

“The Board of Regents’ voice is a very important one. I have urged Regent Garrett to use her voice to add value to the very urgent issues before the Board of Regents and not use her position to create additional distractions or disenfranchise students,” Buretta said.

In a section of her email described as a “vulnerable share,” Garrett described herself as an “extreme empath” who faces “the edginess of mental/emotional turbulence regularly,” and said that “sometimes people do not understand me or my intentions, and I have been judged for my directness and abruptness and even called ’disrespectful.’ ”

In that passage, Garrett also wrote: “I am a longtime student of yoga, and of tantra (which is NOT about sex, people; this is a misguided belief many people have but it is not without reason). Both yoga and tantra are exercises in authenticity, integrity, and perseverance, rooted in deep self-care.”

Morton in his testimony to regents read aloud the passages about tantra and suicide, plus other parts of the email, and called it “counter to basic decency and the values UA advocates.”

Garrett is a graduate student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, according to her regent bio. She is a licensed massage therapist and has worked at Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium as a health educator and at United Way of Southeast Alaska as campaign director. She has previously served in student leadership at the university as a student senator and as student body president.

Garrett’s appointment as student regent has not yet been confirmed by the Legislature. She wrote in Monday’s email to students that she is considering campaigning for a second two-year term as a regent, and said that other students interested in the position should reach out to her or their student governments for guidance on the process.

“I am happy to continue studying at UA for an extended duration if you wish me to continue in this role,” she wrote.

[Read the full text of Garrett’s email below:]

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the length of Cachet Garrett’s email. It is nearly 4,300 words long, not 4,800 words long.

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