By Justin Wier
Youngstown State University student trustees Bryce Miner and Samantha Anderson may be the most powerful students on campus, and they want you to know who they are, what they can do for you and how you can do what they do.
They are student trustees, appointed by the governor of Ohio — who is currently trying to get elected as president — and who serve on the board with the final say on what goes on at this university. Their job is to represent student interests.
“We definitely want to engage the student body because as student representatives on the Board, I think it’s very important that the students know they have resources that they can go to,” Anderson said. “We’re trying to lift that veil and be more accessible to students.”
The Board of Trustees is composed of 11 members — two of whom are students — appointed by the governor to oversee the operations of the University. They hold quarterly meetings, during which they pass legislation that becomes University policy.
“Everything that goes on at the University really filters through the Board of Trustees,” Miner said.
Many of the initiatives that are pursued by the president, provost or academic senate are reviewed and approved by the Board before implementation.
“The Board of Trustees acts as an overarching entity that really hopes to secure the interests of all of its stakeholders,” Anderson said.
The student trustees bring student voices to the University’s governing body.
“We have the opportunity to be on campus everyday, which a lot of trustees do not,” Miner said. “We can bring that perspective to the Board, and I think that they really highly value the different views that we have.”
He said when the Board was deciding whether or not to approve the new apartment complex being built on Fifth Avenue, they came to him.
“A lot of the Board members asked me for my opinion,” Miner said. “What do students want here on campus? And what do you think this campus needs to push us forward?”
Anderson said that while they are a valuable resource for the Board, the flow of information is a two-way street.
“Although we’re here to provide information to the Board, I believe there’s an equal obligation to provide information to students if questions are raised about certain issues that we can answer,” Anderson said.
As a commuter student, Miner said he saw an opportunity to increase his involvement in becoming a student trustee.
“My first two years, I wasn’t really involved on campus,” Miner said. “Being a commuter student is hard. You come up here, and it’s a new university, and you don’t really know which way to go and who to talk to.”
He said he’s learned an incredible amount about the University and the community through serving as a trustee.
Anderson agreed. She said she was drawn to the position by curiosity and wanting to understand more about the University.
“I’m just constantly dumbfounded by the different multifaceted layers that the University operates on, and as a student I’ve just never been fully aware of,” Anderson said.
Miner and Anderson said they are constantly engaging with students to obtain their perceptions of campus.
“It’s crucially important to go out and speak to students,” Miner said. “You’re there for them, and you’re representing them — being their opinion and voice on the Board of Trustees.”
Anderson said it’s rewarding to bring students’ concerns to the administration. She recently had the opportunity to thank people responsible for renovations to Moser Hall on behalf of students.
“Their voices are actually being pushed on to the direct people it impacts,” Anderson said.
The two of them traveled with the football team earlier this year to better understand the experience of student athletes.
“We’re thankful to have the opportunities to be able to experience even to the smallest degree what other students have so that way when we bring that opinion back to the Board we actually can bring back some value,” Anderson said.
Outside of sitting on the Board during meetings, student trustees participate in the same type of community outreach other members of the Board engage in.
“We feel that people in the public should be able to come to us if they have any questions or concerns, and we can relay that information to the administration or to the Board itself,” Miner said.
Anderson said she gives everyone she meets the opportunity to get her contact information.
“I’m hoping that the efforts of my reaching, of my saying I’m here to help you, might be returned at least in the form of an email, saying, ‘I have a question,’ or, ‘I’m concerned about this,’” Anderson said.
Miner said the Board members do a wonderful job of engaging the community. Anderson said when she has lunch with Board members, local citizens are constantly coming over to talk to them.
“What Bryce and I do is try to replicate that engagement with the student body,” Anderson said.
She said it’s important to get perspective on what’s going on in the local community as well as on campus.
“When you have both the little picture and the big picture, your ability to assess different policies is greater,” Anderson said.
Despite the impact student trustees can have, the number of applications for the positions has been small. Anderson was appointed from a pool of 12 applicants, which was twice the number of the six applicants that applied the year Miner was appointed.
Anderson said this could be because students don’t have a firm understanding of what the position entails.
“There are so many high-quality, high-caliber students here on campus that should be put into that pool,” Anderson said. “The last thing I want to think is that we’re not getting these high-caliber students simply because of a lack of understanding or a lack of knowledge of the position.”
Both Miner and Anderson said they would like to see a substantial increase in the number of applicants this year. They would also like to see more diverse students bringing different perspectives to the position.
“There is no cookie-cutter definition for a trustee,” Anderson said. “It’s about what you can bring to the table. What’s unique about you? What can you bring that no one else can bring? That’s what’s important.”
Donna Greenaway, an administrative assistant in the Division of Student Experience, said they are currently reviewing the applications for release later this week and they will be due at the end of November.