Steering clear of students

A powerful University steering committee includes just three students.

Last week, University of Minnesota President Bob Bruininks discussed the Sustaining Excellence Steering Committee, designed to identify areas in which the University can cut costs in order to survive its budget crisis. Among its 25 members are 16 University vice presidents, chancellors and deans, and a token three student representatives. The committeeâÄôs composition is unacceptable. The educational future of more than 50,000 studentsâÄô directly depends on the framework this committee sets. For it to include only three students, especially after the administrationâÄôs indication of oncoming tuition hikes, is beyond unfair; it is insulting. How will students have any meaningful say in the direction of University decisions? A committee dominated by high-ranking administrators will not adequately represent the interests of students and will not likely consider the administrative cuts that must be part of a fair deal. So continues the pattern of administrative insulation from student input. BruininksâÄô comment that the University âÄúdid not succeed completelyâÄù in creating a balanced steering committee echoes his comment about the Graduate School restructuring last year, which also lacked student input: âÄúWe could have done better. We could have engaged people more in conversation.âÄù President Bruininks, you are not even pretending to listen. Either you learned nothing from the admitted failure of the Graduate School restructuring process, or you are content with paying political lip service to students while further consolidating decision-making power away from them. This is, at best, incompetence; at worst, it is the active marginalization of student input in University decision making. Students should accept neither.