Dustin Steinhoff, News Editor
The Associated Students of the University of Missouri has drafted legislation in hopes to replace the student representative position on the University of Missouri Board of Curators with a voting student curator.
ASUM’s proposal was drafted in the form of both a House of Representatives version and Senate version, which consist of the same material and are both currently being evaluated. According to Executive Director of ASUM Natalie Butler, there is a bill in each chamber because it helps the chances of the bill getting passed.
The goal of ASUM’s legislation is to ensure students’ interests are better represented in the Board of Curators by creating a new, more influential position on the board for students.
“The current student representative is simply that: a representative,” Butler said.
As a representative, the student is unable to vote on matters and is only able to speak on behalf of the students to influence the other members of the board to vote one way or another. The student representative position recently obtained the ability to sit in on closed door meetings that of which he/she previously would not have been able to attend. This grants the student representative with almost all of the same access to information as the university curators. With access to these meeting, Butler believes the student filling the new position would be knowledgeable enough to be able to participate in the decision-making process.
“This would give students a more formal say in what’s happening with the Board of Curators,” Butler said. “The Board of Curators makes a lot of decisions so by allowing students to have an official vote, it says that the university truly does value student input and wants to make sure students’ voices are heard when big decisions are being made that will impact the university.”
While the original goals of these legislations have remained the same, the bills have been updated simultaneously since the proposals were initially sent. ASUM has had to make compromises in order to have the bill continue through the legislative process.
One of these compromises included requiring at least one candidate for the new position to be a graduate student. As far as compromises go, Butler does not find this to be too drastic. According to Butler, the majority of previous applicants for the student representative position have been graduate students.
Another compromise that has had to be made ensures that the student curator would not be able to vote on matters regarding faculty members. This compromise is the result of concerns regarding how the student curator’s previous relationships with faculty members could potentially create a conflict of interest.
“This wasn’t necessarily the original aim of the legislation, but we saw this as a necessary compromise to at least get the student curator formalized in that position,” Butler said. “We can always work to make changes to that language later or take measures to ensure there is no conflict of interest between the student curator and a faculty member in such a situation.”
ACM has been working on this bill for about 30 years with much of this time being devoted to changing negative perceptions related to the professionalism of college students.
“This has been a pretty long effort for us,” Butler said. “We have been doing a lot of work to change the projection of students. There was always a lot of concern that this was too much responsibility for a student. I think our student representatives over the last several decades have done exceptional jobs of changing that perception and clarifying that students are very professional individuals and can be involved in high-level decision making and do it well.”
With ASUM continually working toward passing this legislation, UMSL students will not have to wait long before knowing whether the bills are passed and students receive a more prominent role in the Board of Curators.
“We are going to keep working on this legislation,” Blank said. “We think it is really important to students so we’re hoping to see some progress with the legislation this year.”