Three times a year, the GW Board of Trustees meets to set University policy on issues ranging from academics to student life. While incredibly relevant to students, the 35-member panel has no voting student representation. To compound matters, only two students – the Student Association president and a representative from The Hatchet – are permitted to attend the Board’s ‘public’ session. It is imperative the University rectifies both matters promptly in the interest of transparency and empowering students.
Students have a direct stake in the way their University is run. While students have the ability both directly and through institutions such as the Student Association to meet with administrators, ultimate decision-making authority is vested in the Board of Trustees. Student money runs all aspects of the University, minus funds drawn from GW’s endowment. It is only logical those contributing to the financial well being of the University have a voice in ensuring their money is put to good use.
This page understands administrative apprehension in thinking a student representative on the Board would be unable to collaborate substantively on policy issues. While this can certainly be said for a large portion of students, there are select few who would relish the combing through of financial and administrative minutiae relevant in running a large institution. Giving students the opportunity to serve would not only add an important voice to deliberations but would also provide a valuable learning experience in real-life management.
The University should expand the Board by two seats to include both an undergraduate and graduate representative. The student body at large should elect their representatives during general SA elections. While elected concurrently, the representative should be independent of SA oversight. While there would be room for collaboration, separating their influence would allow for a de-politicization of the enterprise.
Currently only two students are even able to view the Board’s public sessions and none are able to view the closed, executive sessions. Despite a clamor to allow student access to at least view the meetings, the University justifies its measure of continuing to close students out of the meetings for lack of interest or the lack of a venue capable of holding more spectators. Installing a closed-circuit video feed to J Street, as this page has suggested in the past, could solve both problems.
It is imperative students be given more access to the Board of Trustees. By providing an active voice for students on the Board and allowing more students to view its proceedings, the University would take a positive step in empowering students to take a more active role in their educational future.