Student Trustees May Receive Voting Rigts

Anastasia Nicholas The Post

Ohio University’s student trustees, Brooke Mauro and Patrick Roden, could gain voting rights within the Board of Trustees in the future.

OU Student Senate voted to support student trustee voting rights at its meeting Feb. 15.

Student Senate President Hannah Clouser said senate has been pursuing student trustee voting rights since her freshman year. Now she is a senior.“Students bring a different perspective than regular board members and bring student voices to the table,” Clouser said. “Voting rights would actually validate those student voices.”

Last year, Rep. Michael Stinziano, D-Columbus, pushed his bill for the third time to give student trustees across the state voting rights.

“Every board member you talk to is very supportive that (student trustees) do a great job and have a voice,” Stinziano said. “That’s been my back and forth with some of them: Why don’t you have them vote?”

In 2010, 50.3 percent of student trustees in the U.S. had voting rights, according to an article by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

Stinziano said Ohio is in the minority of states with universities whose student trustees can’t vote. Student trustees in surrounding statesIndiana, Pennsylvania and West Virginia all have voting rights.

“We should expect better,” Stinziano said.

Mauro, a junior in her first year on the Board, said she agrees with members of the Board of Trustees that student trustee voting rights are necessary.

She added that the board already includes the student trustees as if they had voting privileges, but giving them official voting rights adds validity to their position.

“We, as students, feel the consequences and effects of the decision made by the Board so we should naturally be able to formally vote on them,” Mauro said.

However, Roden, the senior trustee who is serving his second year on the Board, feels differently.

He said he does not feel voting rights are necessary for OU student trustees because every vote he’s been a part of was unanimous and would not have been changed by two additional votes.

Additionally, he said he has more power with his voice being able to change multiple votes than he would with one official vote.

“Our board does a fantastic job not only listening to me when I want to talk but actually calling on me to give my opinion on certain issues, especially things directly affecting campus,” Roden said. “They really value both mine and the other student trustee’s opinion in my past couple years.”

Roden said he is not against the concept of student trustee voting rights, but he does not feel they are necessary.

Mauro and Roden both said, if student trustees are granted voting rights, it is not likely to happen soon. Mauro said this could be because OU is transitioning between presidents.

“There’s a good chance, but it’s not going to happen any time soon,” Roden said. “I don’t think there’s a giant push for it.”

Clouser said she hopes senate will continue to advocate for student trustee voting rights if they are not granted this year.

“If it doesn’t happen this year, I would imagine other senates will continue to work on it,” Clouser said. “But I can’t speak for them.”