Why students deserve a say

Shared governance is the right direction for the University.

ItâÄôs been said that the best way to learn is by doing. Right now the University of Minnesota has a grand opportunity to help its students learn about leadership, governance and politics; it can allow them to take a more active and official part in University decision-making. The Minnesota Student Association is currently crafting a shared governance proposal that would mandate student involvement in any decisions that âÄúaffect the student body.âÄù Many universities empower their students to participate in such deliberations to varying degrees. It is incongruous that the University doesnâÄôt already have a robust shared governance policy in place. In so many ways, this institution holds its students to the highest standards. It doesnâÄôt compute, then, that students wouldnâÄôt be given a substantial share of responsibility in shaping the policies and decisions that determine the nature and course of their college experience. One option MSA has reserved for itself is to appeal directly to the state Legislature to force the representation it seeks. Though this contingency should be unnecessary, it would be regrettable. Indeed, showing that students can participate in delicate negotiations and compromise is part of the point. If the student body has been paying any attention to U.S. foreign policy on Iraq and Afghanistan, though, it will perhaps have observed by now that the power of self-determination isnâÄôt worth much when itâÄôs given as a gift unbidden. If University students are serious about having a say, the question of shared governance canâÄôt be left up to the MSA and administration; students will have to work hard in the coming months to make sure their voices are heard in this process.