Voting student curator amendment hits dead end

Opponents cited “a lack of experience” as a major reason against a voting student curator.

The Missouri House of Representatives voted down an amendment to allow for a voting student curator to reside on the UM System Board of Curators on Monday.

The Board of Curators, which serves as the executive board for the four-campus university system, has one student representative but does not give the student the right to vote on board decisions. The amendment to House Bill 174 was voted down by a count of 99-53.

Opponents to the legislation said a voting student curator would have a conflict of interest and would not work on the board long enough to fully understand the issues facing the System.

Rep. Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, said he didn't doubt student competence but took issue with students' lack of experience.

"I don't know that I could say a student is incompetent at all," Richardson said. "I think they're smarter now than I was when I was in school. But I don't see any 21 year olds in here that are going to school. It's a whole different situation, we're talking about experience, wisdom and knowledge that they need to be able to function on a board that is very complicated and very complex."

Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, said he didn't think the length of time a curator serves has anything to do with the quality of the decisions a curator makes. He argued State House Representatives are elected for two-year terms, and they are trusted to make laws for the state.

"It's not the length of time, it's the quality of the people that you get," Webber said. "A third of our chamber, now, is made up of folks who are freshman, who have never been here before. They were elected for a two-year term and they're setting the laws of the state."

Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Cape Girardeau, said students are listened to and their ideas are considered, but since the students only serve for two years, they don't have a broad enough perspective to vote on the Board.

"I think it's wonderful that these students are here, but they really do not have a broad enough idea of what is going on," Litchnegger said. "They don't know about facilities, they don't know about faculty benefits, they don't know a number of things that goes on with this board."

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