Dec 032008
 
Authors: Aaron Hedge

Following a national trend that’s seen more state colleges and universities put student voting members on their governing boards, student government officials sought support from the CSU System Board of Governors Wednesday for legislation that would place two voting students on the board.

The bid was drafted by Seth Walter, the director of legislative affairs for the Associated Students of CSU, who seeks a state lawmaker to sponsor it when the state legislative process begins in the spring.

There are currently two student members on the BOG, the presidents of the CSU-Fort Collins and CSU-Pueblo student governments, but neither have voting rights, which some say should change as students are the primary stakeholders at both institutions.

Doug Jones, the chair of the BOG, said the board will take time to consider whether they favor the measure, as it would not be implemented by lawmakers for months.

“We have some time between the now and legislative process for us to discuss this,” Jones said.In recent years, university costs have been shifted increasingly onto the backs of students, as, at the Fort Collins campus, tuition and student fees have skyrocketed, rising 72 and 53 percent respectively in the past five years.

Taylor Smoot, the president of ASCSU, said the bill would ease conflicts of interest that exist when student government presidents are prohibited from talking about information discussed in executive session, which hampers their ability to represent the students, at board meetings.

He said student government presidents can’t disclose information that they feel is important for students, as they are privy to discussions that are not available to most students through the off-the-record meetings every month with the BOG.

“We don’t want just to be heard,” he said. “We want to participate in the shared governance process.”

If there is a student-voting member on the board, he said, that person would be able to represent the student body with a vote.

“I think that would be very beneficial to the overall evaluation of the system,” he said.

Walter said 25 percent of public campuses in the country, including Iowa and Illinois, have student voting members on their boards, which are both listed on CSU’s Web site as peer institutions, and that it is a growing national trend.

David Fresquez, the president for the Associated Students’ Government, Pueblo’s student government, echoed Smoot’s comments, saying the Pueblo senate voted unanimously to support the measure at their Monday meeting.

“It was amazing that all the senators agreed on this,” Fresquez said. “That impacts every single student on both our campuses.”

Development Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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