Columbus, Ohio – Student trustees at Ohio’s public four-year universities could gain voting rights on university boards under a bipartisan bill advancing in the Ohio House, sponsored by State Representatives Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) and Mike Duffey (R-Worthington).
And on November 8th, The Ohio State University Board of Trustees passed its own resolution supporting the Duffey-Stinziano legislation, but also going one step further – the board said it would actually grant student trustee voting rights if and when HB 111 becomes law in Ohio. This places The Ohio State University on the vanguard of Ohio’s public universities supporting student trustee voting.
“This resolution [stating OSU’s intent to grant student trustee voting rights] was unexpected,” said Duffey. “The Ohio State University has historically been the most-inclusive of student trustees, and also the most supportive of our legislation, but this is truly the icing on the cake for Ohio State students.”
HB 111 would allow, but not require, Ohio public universities to grant student trustee voting rights like regular board of trustee members. The Inter-University Council of Ohio has written a letter in support of the legislation as long as it remains permissive and not mandatory. The Ohio House Education Committee unanimously approved the measure 15-0 on Monday, November 18, 2013.
HB 111 now awaits referral to the full Ohio House of Representatives for a possible vote.
“Student trustees already make many valuable contributions to the work being done on university boards of trustees. This common-sense measure will give our student trustees an additional opportunity to make a valuable contribution to that work,” said Stinziano, whose father – also named Mike Stinziano – is a former state representative and known as the original sponsor creating student trustees in Ohio.
Under current law, public universities in Ohio are overseen by a board of trustees that includes two student members appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Ohio Senate. State law does not allow student trustees to vote or guarantee participation in executive session.
Both Stinziano and Duffey said the measure will elevate student trustees to the status of regular trustee members. A similar measure sponsored by the same two lawmakers passed the Ohio House overwhelming last year but did not make it through the Ohio Senate.