Multiple students are applying for at-large seats on the board of regents

They are also applying for the student-at-large position along with other students.

Niamh Coomey

 

An at-large and student at-large seat on the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents will open up next legislative session, making room for several students to apply. 

Students with past University government experience applied for both at-large seats, including Minnesota Student Association Chief of Staff James Farnsworth and University law student Joshua Preston. Both said they hope to bring a new student voice to the board at an important transition period for University leadership. 

“[I will] always have a student-centric angle and lens in my work on the board and the questions I’m asking and always make sure I’m being really in tune and really responsive to what’s in front of the board that’s important to students,” Farnsworth said. 

Per Board of Regents policy, one spot on the board is required to be filled by a current University of Minnesota student. This student-at-large position serves to increase active student representation and involvement, and provides a current student with a vote in University matters. The Minnesota Legislature elects this and all other Board of Regents seats. University graduate Regent Abdul Omari currently fills this position. 

Farnsworth said some of the most pressing upcoming issues facing the Board of Regents include nonresident tuition hikes, renaming buildings on campus, and working with the new president and provost.

“The role of a regent is to be a partner in those conversations as well as ask challenging questions and make sure that the president and provost, that the board is working in conjunction with them on a mission, on a vision in a strategic way.”

Preston previously served as a student representative to the Board of Regents. He said working with the new University president will be one of the biggest focuses for the board. 

“The board is going to have to develop a working relationship with the next president of the university and have the important conversation of ‘where do we want the University to be in ten years’,” Preston said. 

Regent Richard Beeson said student regents bring an important perspective to the board.

“They bring the direct experience of being…a primary stakeholder,” he said. I think that’s really important because for the rest of us, we’ve been out of college for twenty, thirty, fourty, or fifty years, so it is a good reality check,” Beeson said. 

Regent Steve Sviggum said the board should not necessarily reserve a seat for students, but rather the most qualified candidate. He said he doesn’t expect the Legislature to elect a student to the at-large position. 

“I would very much doubt that they’re gonna elect two students,” he said.

All student at-large applicants have demonstrated familiarity with the University and a desire to be a part of the student community, said Regent Darrin Rosah. 

“Having that intent, that desire, and recognition that public service of this variety can have an impact on people’s lives, I think that’s important.”

According to a photograph tweeted by NPR reporter Brian Bakst, ten students submitted applications for both the student-at-large and at-large positions. 

The Regent Advisory Council will review applications and interview candidates in January before sending their recommendations to the Legislature.