Mar 212010
 
Authors: Madeline Novey

To the disappointment of student government leaders, a bill that would give two students voting rights on the CSU System Board of Governors was postponed indefinitely 2-6 in the state Senate Education Committee Thursday afternoon.

Though House Bill 1206 did not become law this legislative session, Associated Students of CSU and CSU-Pueblo student government leaders are ready to head back to the drawing board and make improvements, said Matt Worthington, director of ASCSU’s Legislative Affairs Department.

“We left the committee thinking, we shall return,” Worthington said of students’ plans for the future.

There was a lot of Senatorial discussion in support of HB 1206, Worthington said, but senators were concerned that students do not have the lifetime experience current board members bring to the table.

While he understands that students do not have the same level of political and business expertise as someone like CSU Chancellor Joe Blake, who worked 10 years on Denver’s Chamber of Commerce, ASCSU President Dan Gearhart said students have a unique and equally important outlook.

“We have student experience,” Gearhart said. “Is it less than the other? I don’t think so.”

Students are able to see how their campus is impacted by the BOG’s decisions, Gearhart said. They can see the construction changing the face of CSU, and they feel the burden of tuition increases, he said.

Students provide a third of CSU’s operating money, said Steve Titus, CSU-Pueblo’s Associated Students’ Government president, and it’s important they have an actual legitimate voice from a shareholder standpoint.

“I think it’s a conflict of interest for those who are paying tuition to have a vote in the setting of tuition,” bill opponent State Rep. Carol Murray said in an e-mail to the Collegian.

She said students are taken out of “open and freewheeling representation of and communication to their student constituents when they must keep secrets about executive session and must publicly support a decision with which they may really disagree.”

It’s important that students not lose sight of the importance of voting rights on the board, Gearhart and Worthington said.

“I really do urge the students to keep this up … this is something we need,” Gearhart said. He urged members of the CSU-Fort Collins and CSU-Pueblo student governments to rework the bill and present it anew in next year’s state legislative session.

Last year, the same bill was killed in legislative session.

Pushing for HB 1206 is likely a multiyear effort, said State Rep. Randy Fischer, who sponsored the bill in the state House.

“I’m disappointed,” he said of the bill’s postponement, “but I think that the students showed they have the maturity, and I think they really showed they have something to offer as board members through this entire process … it’s not an entire loss.”

Just as students from the University of Missouri fought for 16 years to gain voting rights on their governing board, Worthington said both CSU campuses are willing to do the same.

“We’re disappointed, but this isn’t the end,” he said. “We’re going to come back next year and get what we need for student representation.”

News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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