Regents lack student voice

Students deserve to have more influence on the Board of Regents.

by Editorial board

In December 2010, the Minnesota Daily Editorial Board outlined the need for greater diversity in the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents. That piece was essentially a call for a shake-up in the selection of new regents.

This past week, Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, and the Minnesota Student Legislative Coalition have called for their own shake-up to the Board of Regents with legislation, which would require two students to sit on the board instead of the current requirement of one. This legislation is in the spirit of the Daily’s previous calls not only for diversity in the regents, but for greater student voice on the board as well.

As legislation progressed last week, state legislators, University President Eric Kaler and Board of Regents Chairwoman Linda Cohen all gave the proposal a rather cool reception. Cohen’s point that having two students on the board certainly can and has happened doesn’t guarantee that it will — this proposal does.

Conversely, Kaler argues that student representation on the board is currently strong, and student concerns are voiced on the board’s various committees from each campus quite well. While Kaler’s point is well taken, no student on these committees has a vote. Without such a vote, student concerns can be easily and willfully brushed aside.

Compared to many university systems, the University lags in terms of student representation in its governing body. Mandating two students on the Board of Regents is a good start to guaranteeing that those most affected by University policies have greater power to bring about needed change.