Missing a Voice on the BOD
Published: Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 01:01
The George Washington University student government launched an initiative exploring the possibility of having a voting student member on its board of trustees late last year. If the Georgetown University administration and the Georgetown University Student Association take student opinions seriously, they ought to do the same.
At Georgetown, the board of directors has a senior student observer and a junior student shadow observer who are considered an important part of board dialogue but do not have an actual vote. Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson told The Hoya in November that he had not considered granting voting rights to the student observers. “We have not had that conversation,” Olson said, adding that an undergraduate voting member would not have much impact on the board’s deliberations.
Frankly, now is the time to have the conversation.
As Olson already stated, a voting student member might not have a substantial impact on the crucial decisions of Georgetown’s 36-member board, but it would nonetheless lend legitimacy to undergraduate concerns. The payoff would be tremendous for student rights and would not affect the overall stability of board decisions.
Yet while the GW proposal provides an excellent model, that initiative has already received harsh criticism. The GW student would be just one of 38 voters on the board and would be cycled out far more often than the other board members, some of whom have worked hard as alumni to attain prestigious positions on the board. If GUSA decides to begin a corresponding initiative, it would likely be met with similar criticism.
While daunting, this criticism does not mean that such an initiative is not worth pursuing at Georgetown. However insignificant a single student vote may be, its existence would represent continuing progress for student input on campus and foster an expanding culture of student involvement in university decision-making.