Columbus, Ohio – Student trustees at Ohio’s public four-year universities could gain voting rights on university boards under a bipartisan bill that overwhelmingly passed in the Ohio House today. HB 111 is sponsored by State Representatives Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) and Mike Duffey (R-Worthington).
“Student trustees are already making valuable contributions to the work of university boards of trustees,” said Stinziano. “We are hopeful the Ohio Senate will quickly approve this bill to give student trustees a direct role in university decision making that affects all students.”
Moreover, The Ohio State University announced its intent to make the university the first in Ohio to grant such voting rights if and when the bill is passed by the Ohio Senate and signed by Gov. Kasich.
On November 8th, The Ohio State University Board of Trustees passed their 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 a historic milestone 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 17-0 on Monday, November 18, 2013.
HB 111 is now headed to the Ohio Senate.
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. Student trustees do not have the right to vote or to participate 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.