Newly-elected Board of Regents student representatives look to upcoming year

New student representatives to the board were elected recently after a disputed election process.

Student Representative to the Board of Regents Austin Kraft poses for a portrait outside of Coffman Memorial Union on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Jack Rodgers

Student Representative to the Board of Regents Austin Kraft poses for a portrait outside of Coffman Memorial Union on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Sunny Lim

After contentious elections last spring, several new student representatives to the Board of Regents were appointed at the beginning of this school year, with one member being added as recently as last week.

The eight student representatives from across all University of Minnesota system campuses hope to effectively convey students’ perspectives to the board — especially during a period of various changes in leadership within different levels of the University. 

Typically, two students from graduate and professional student government are nominated and two students from undergraduate student government are also nominated. But last year, the groups were unable to agree on nominees — leaving the positions vacant.

When asked about how the new representatives were chosen, several student representatives declined to comment. 

Graduate student Anne Barnes, professional student James Pathoulas and undergraduate students Austin Kraft and Jael Kerandi were selected as the Twin Cities student representatives for the academic year. While Kerandi and Pathoulas were elected in the spring, Kraft was elected in August and Barnes was elected last week. 

The new student representatives aim to give student input for upcoming leadership changes at the University including the search for the next president, executive vice president and provost and four regent seats up for re-election next year. 

“This is a pivotal moment in our University leadership and the connection that students have to University leadership [is] incredibly important,” Kraft said. “The Twin Cities undergraduate student representatives are hard at work in grounding our advocacy in research and student experiences to represent the Twin Cities undergraduate students in any way we can, particularly in all the administrative change.”

Regent Michael Hsu hopes they will do exactly that.

“Obviously, they’re there to provide input to the board from the student perspective,” Hsu said. “They rotate through various committees and then they write up a student report at the end of the year.”

Although the representatives have a common goal of speaking for the University community, Barnes believes they are in charge of bringing up the problems in the community.

“I don’t think it’s really our job to have goals as much as it is to just listen to the students we represent and bring forward the issues of importance to the students,” Barnes said. “The regents really have goals, but as representatives, we just have issues of importance.”

This year, Kraft and Kerandi will manage a new student board program that pairs regents with undergraduate students on the Twin Cities campus. The student representatives want this to give the regents a feel for the day in the life of a typical Twin Cities undergraduate student.

“It’s open to any student to be a part of this shadowing program,” Kraft said. “We’re really pulling on the diverse experiences of students and how their day to day life at the University is individual, unique and is worth sharing.”