Consideration of new Board of Regents policy concerning student representation

Shared governance is a bedrock of good higher education administration. Throughout its history, collaborative and consultative relationships between students, faculty, staff and administrators have made the University of Minnesota a stronger institution. There is a tradition of these stakeholders setting the direction of the institution, and that continues today. One important part of our shared governance ecosystem is the student representation to the Board of Regents, the governing body of the University.

The Board of Regents is considering a revised policy regarding the student representatives to the board. Currently, the selection of the student representatives is undertaken by each individual student association throughout the University of Minnesota system. Students have complete agency to select their representatives. On the Twin Cities campus, we conduct a formal, campus-wide, entirely student-run application process to select the most qualified and committed candidates to represent the student body. An element of the proposed revision to the Regents policy would weaken that tradition.

The revision to the policy includes certain selection criteria: At time of selection, student representatives must be full-time, degree-seeking students (as defined by the University) and have at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA. On its face, these requirements are not wholly unreasonable. However, the Board of Regents dictating selection criteria, instead of students, is cause for concern.

Allowing student representatives to serve on the committees of the Board of Regents, in addition to having one student regent, is a privilege. However, we believe that all agency in selecting the student representatives should be left up to the student associations. The requirement of any selection criteria for the student associations implies that student associations are not capable of selecting adequate representation, and it may prevent qualified individuals from being chosen as student representatives. We believe that student representation should not be determined by any set of criteria that are imposed upon the student associations, but, rather, that the student associations should be able to select the student who best represents their campus’s voice because they are most in tune with their student body. Students are generally open to considering new criteria for student representatives, but it should be considered solely by the individual student associations, and not mandated by the Board of Regents.