Our two state-appointed student trustees have a vital role to play on campus; they represent the student body on the Board, acting as a liaison between students and the administration.
Considering their importance, it would seem sensible to ensure student trustees’ presence at all board meetings. But, this has not been the case due to a muddled student trustee selection procedure.
In an ideal world, here’s how the process would work: Qualified students would apply for the position; the office of student affairs would review their applications and recommend five students to the governor’s office; the governor would make his final appointment, and the newly appointed student trustee would begin his or her term on the day of the outgoing trustee’s departure.
Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world, and in recent years the actual selection process has looked more like this: Qualified students apply for the position late in the school-year; the office of student affairs reviews their applications and recommends five students to the governor’s office some time during the summer; the governor takes several more months to make a final appointment, and the new student trustee doesn’t begin his or her term until well after the outgoing trustee’s graduation.
This process has severely abbreviated student trustee’s tenures. They’re supposed to serve two-year terms, but this hasn’t been the case. Consider current student trustee Eric Shehadi; he wasn’t appointed to the Board until September of 2013, forcing him to miss committee meetings in June and September, effectively reducing his term by 25 percent.
Though we don’t know if student affairs is to blame for sending applicants’ names to the state late or if the Governor is to blame for taking so long to make an appointment, we do know this: something’s not right.
While waiting for an appointment last fall, The Jambar began looking into this selection process by making a spirited phone call to the governor’s office asking why this appointment was taking so long. Later that same day, we received a call back saying that a decision had been made and that Shehadi would be notified of his appointment the next day.
The bottom line is that when student trustees are appointed late, they cannot participate in meetings or advocate for the needs of the student body. Essentially, we’ve been underrepresented.
A quick review of this year’s candidates is comforting; they are all active students who tote impressive grade point averages. We, therefore, want a prompt appointment so one of these qualified candidates can fill the board’s vacancy.