Students deserve louder voice on Board of Regents

Here’s a sad fact of modern campus life: Students are a largely unimportant constituency to many of the people who make University policy. That point aside, the University should, at least, make it appear as if the student voice matters. Still, Board of Regents’ policy generally prohibits student representatives, who do not vote, from voicing their concerns before the full board. The policy frustrated student representatives who feel they have been excluded from debate on important matters such as participation in the Mount Graham International Observatory project, the presidential search and a proposed Gophers/Vikings stadium. A small change in board policy permitting greater student voice could easily remedy the situation.

As it stands, student representatives can comment only at board subcommittee meetings and in front of the full board when items are not discussed at the subcommittee level. The limits, according to Regents Chairwoman Maureen Reed, are largely a matter of expediency.

Student representatives are seeking a modest change. They would like to present a monthly report to the full board on student issues. Approval of the request would go a long way in helping students at least feel that their opinions count. And it would help regents become better informed about student concerns. Whether the regents listen to the students is another issue.

To its detriment, the student body is often apathetic about University affairs. But that doesn’t mean the student voice should not be consulted at every reasonable opportunity, particularly on important matters such as tuition hikes. Student representatives will make their case to the regents in November. We hope they make the right choice and give students greater voice. Otherwise, as student representative to the board Allison Rhody asks, “Why are we here?”