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Friday, October 31, 2014

Senate bill would require student vote on University Board of Curators

Three similar bills have all failed in the House but Senate bill remains.

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Emmy Boyd/Graphic Designer

March 13, 2012

Three bills aiming to appoint a student member to the UM System Board of Curators failed in the House last week.

A similar Senate bill is still active and mirrors the three House bills, which would require the Board of Curators to appoint a graduate or professional student to the board by 2013, according to the bill.

The Senate bill is sponsored by Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-District 19, and is being promoted by the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, Corbin Evans, Legislative Director for ASUM, said.

Currently, the board is responsible for all matters involving the UM System and includes a student representative that is involved in all meetings and deliberations, according to its website.

UM-Kansas City senior Amy Johnson is the current student representative, but has no voting power on the board. She acts as the voice of the student body through relaying information and making arguments to the board, Evans said.

“We feel it’s possible to give her voting power on the board and that gives her the same level of respect as the other eight voting members,” Evans said. “We feel this is important to give students the right to vote.”

In a letter from Board of Curators chairman David Bradley to Rep. Mike Thomson, R-District 4, Bradley said he is not in favor of allowing a student to be a voting member of the Board.

“I am opposed to any language that directs the governor to appoint a member from a specific constituency group including students, alumni, faculty, staff or retirees,” Bradley said in the letter.

He continues to explain his position, saying individuals who have a much wider view of the institution as opposed to students, best serve the governance of the university.

The students with ASUM have been diligent in their pursuit of this change, and have been pushing for it for a long time, Thomson said.

“I just don’t believe they belong on any governing boards of a university,” Thomson said. “They’re present to learn and become educated, not be on a board of curators.”

The time constraint with belonging to a large board is also a concern, he said, as the Board of Curators controls one of the largest organizations in the state.

“I’m not against the students,” Thomson said. “I would just like to see them focus on other things that will benefit the university.”

Although Johnson does not disagree with the bill or the idea of appointing a student as the ninth voting member of the board, she has other ideas and objectives she is seeking to complete as student curator, she said in an email.

There are various ways of going about increasing student participation and presence on the board, and Johnson said she plans to focus on facilitating an open line of communication between the board and the students.

“I would much rather focus on creating a two-way, dynamic flow of information between the BOC and students versus whether or not I have a vote on the Board,” Johnson said. “The most important task I have is to represent the students and I will continue to do so with the resources I have.”

The Senate bill is still active and moving through the normal legislative process, but there is no date set for the next Senate vote on the matter. Should the bill be approved, it would take effect Aug. 28.

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