Editorial: UConn must increase student representation Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees met of their monthly meeting to discuss current affairs of the university. While not on the budget many students came to speak in support of a bill to make UConn a sanctuary city. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut Board of Trustees currently includes voting student trustees—one from the undergraduate class and another from the pool of graduate students. Though the board announced plans to add two undergraduate students to the Committee on Student Life, more full members of the board are needed. More student trustees would ensure accountability and transparency in the board’s numerous significant decisions. Though the Governor has rejected prior proposals to double the number of student trustees, the move becomes more necessary with each tuition hike and budget reduction.

The 21-member Board of Trustees consists of 12 members appointed by Governor Dannel Malloy, two student trustees and “five ex-officio [members] including the Governor, UConn Health Board of Directors Chair, and the Commissioners of Agriculture, Economic and Community Development and Education.” Limiting student representation to two trustees satisfies the principle that students should have a voice on the board. However, given the reality that decisions of the board affect students most directly, it would follow that students should occupy a greater position on the Board of Trustees. Student representation should not simply be a minority voice on the board but a group whose input cannot be easily ignored.

A Feb. 22 article from UConn’s publication, UConn Today, detailed the proposal for the addition of two undergraduate students who “would serve as voting members of the board’s Committee on Student Life.” The article described this particular committee as being responsible for discussions “and acts on matters of critical importance to students, including the campus master plan, housing, governance and funding for student groups and activities, health and safety, student conduct, and other topics.”

While adding these additional representatives is beneficial, the move hardly satisfies the need for greater student involvement and influence on the board. Though the Committee on Student Life impacts student life in the short-term, student trustees should have greater involvement in long-term planning as well.

Current undergraduate student-trustee, Adam Kuegler, advocated for a bill allotting two additional spots for student trustees in 2016. The year prior, Gov. Malloy vetoed a similar measure, much to the surprise of Kuegler and others. Gov. Malloy’s position is clearly as unpopular as it is illogical.

Adding more student trustees is in line with the mission of a public university and the reality that current students are most capable of commenting on current university policies. Gov. Malloy’s outsized influence on the Board of Trustees, as compared with the minimal role of student trustees, is nonsensical. As students face ever-increasing costs and watch the UConn budget shrink, an increase of student representation and power on the board has become vital.