Last week three bills to appoint a student curator with voting power to the UM System Board of Curators failed in the House.
One remaining active bill in the Senate would require the Board of Curators to appoint a graduate or professional student to the board by 2013. Given the three failed bills in the House, it doesn’t seem likely. This needs to change. This bill is an opportunity to give students throughout the system a representative voice like we’ve never had in the past.
The student curator is a position to which the governor appoints a qualified student. The student curator serves as a representative to the board, which is in charge of all matters involving the university system. Having that student voice gives us a say in important issues that affect our collegiate experience. Yet without a vote, our voice is not nearly as strong as it should be. Having full voting rights for the student curator would make each statement on our behalf legitimate and prominent on the official voting records. Instead of offering advice that the eight-member board can disregard, a student curator with voting rights can directly support or oppose board initiatives. Even if the student curator is outnumbered, that one vote will serve as an unflinching reminder of what UM System students want and need and whether the board has served those wants and needs.
What group of people feels the consequences of the board’s actions more than we, the students? Our input is necessary in making decisions for the betterment of the entire university.
Perhaps state officials are hesitant to pass any bill giving a student curator voting power because they think our representative will be unprofessional and unwilling to listen to opposing viewpoints. But it’s not as if the student curator will be some Joe Schmoe freshman from Schurz Hall. The student curator will be a qualified, knowledgeable graduate or professional student who must be approved and appointed by the governor.
In any case, it is incumbent on the student curator to conduct him or herself in a manner befitting a representative of more than 73,000 students, and we hope current student curator Amy Johnson, of UM-Kansas City, will do so. A student curator who gives any doubt as to his or her professionalism cripples our standing with the board and kills our representative strength within it.
Even though there will be a consistent turnover rate within the student curator position due to that student graduating, the presence of a student curator will keep the Board of Curators updated on the viewpoints of a student population with a turnover of the same rate.
We support and appreciate the Associated Students of the University of Missouri who have been pushing this issue for a long time now, and we think this is an important initiative MSA should lend its weight to, as well. Each of us students must act, too.
Call your state senators and make it known that the most important constituents of the UM System Board of Curators, the students, demand that we be given a voice in matters that directly affect us.
This is not something to disregard as a nice afterthought for the future: if the bill is approved, it will take effect Aug. 28 of this year, meaning we will be able to seize the opportunity for increased representation and all the benefits that come with it now. Even if it passes in the Senate, we must make our support of the bill known to Gov. Nixon, to avoid a veto like Sen. Blunt’s in 2008.
The Board of Curators is outdated. Approximately half of all U.S. public colleges and universities had at least one student as a voting member of their board as of 2010, according to the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.
It’s time we have our say.