With student elections approaching on March 1 and 2, University of Connecticut undergraduate students will vote for their student trustee. Undergraduate students should remember that in choosing a student trustee, they are choosing their representative and advocate. The State’s decision to use UConn’s budget as a flexible portion of the annual budget, as well as the increasingly visible impact of federal policies on student life mean that this vote is consequential. Student elections are often treated with a minimal level of gravity. However, if students wish to see advocacy for their concerns, change begins with elections of this scale.
The UConn Board of Trustees is currently considering a proposal to give the undergraduate student trustee membership and voting privileges on the Committee on Financial Affairs. If the board passes this proposal, the undergraduate student trustee’s importance will increase further, as will the need for students to seriously weigh candidates in the upcoming election.
In a Feb. 17 report, Schae Beaudoin of the Daily Campus interviewed the current graduate student trustee, Kevin Braghirol, about his position, the impact of student trustees and the upcoming election. After being elected graduate student trustee and serving in the position, Braghirol believes the student trustee position is “one of the few opportunities students get to have their concerns brought directly to administration.” With a student body of over 20,000, UConn students must consider the gravity of entrusting the most direct student advocacy to this one individual.
Student complaints regarding the university, administration, state budget cuts and other issues are abundant on social media, within this newspaper and throughout campus dialogue. While group advocacy, discussion and protest are vital, concerned students must consider the importance of the student trustee in these same discussions. The student trustee serves as a direct conduit to the administration and the Board of Trustees. Placing a greater level of importance on the student trustee position both during and after elections will only serve to benefit the student population.
During a busy semester, students might consider student elections to be of secondary concern. While the impact of elected student positions may not be felt immediately or personally, student representatives can be of enormous importance to the student body. The student trustees, both for undergraduates and graduates, serve as the chief advocate of the student body to the Board of Trustees. Given the power held by this body, students should give equal consideration to candidates, and be sure to vote for the student trustee position next week.