Student officers present concerns to Garland, regents

Nov. 4, 2009

Student body president Jordan Hannah, external vice president Emily Saultz and internal vice president Michael Wright met with Interim President Dr. David Garland Tuesday and discussed the progress the regents have made in becoming familiar with student needs.

Chairman of the Baylor Board of Regents, Dary Stone, told student government at the beginning of this semester that the regents were interested in hearing the concerns of Baylor students and working to improve them. Student government took that encouragement and put together the Issue of the Week survey to gather information on students' problems.

In the meeting, Garland said the regents have been discussing a movement into a large-scale fundraising campaign for student financial support.

Garland also said the affordability of Baylor education is definitely on his mind and suggested both the regents and student government keep looking for solutions.

On Oct. 22, Hannah, Saultz and Wright presented the results of the student government survey to the board of regents in an effort to solve student concerns.

Hannah said that they met with the student and academic affairs committee, which consists of nine regents, and had five minutes to give a presentation of the results.

"We started the conversation by saying that our initiative of issue of the week has been very successful in gathering student opinion and that we received great feedback," Hannah said. "Then we showed the regents the statistics we had gathered and they responded very well to the fact that we had been out there on campus soliciting student opinion."

Wright agreed with Hannah that the regents were excited to hear the student opinion and find a way to fix these issues.

"It went really well," Wright said. "They were really impressed and happy that we brought some evidence and numbers to them so they were able to see what students actually think."

Fort Worth junior Rachel Chasse thought it was beneficial that student government is trying to communicate with the regents on the students' behalf.

"I appreciate their attempt at reaching out, because students have been saying that student government is ineffective," Chasse said. "With student government finding out and taking our concerns to the administration, we no longer have a reason to complain."

Through the issue of the week campaign, student government found that one of the main areas of concern for students was financial aid. Student government surveys show that since there will be a 6.5 percent increase in tuition next year, students are concerned about how their aid will hold up in the upcoming years.

Hannah said that the financial aid package of students does not increase as tuition increases, therefore students have been struggling for the past few years to make tuition payments.

"We shared a part of the survey that [showed] almost 70 percent of students said they knew a least one Baylor student who had to leave Baylor due to finances, which is a large amount," Hannah said. "So we wanted to present those facts to the regents."

The government officers framed the facts with the goal to allow those students who are working hard based on merit and academics to receive more financial aid through their years at Baylor.

Hannah said that they encouraged the regents to set up more scholarships based on academic achievement such as a Dean's List scholarship and more departmental scholarships.

Their presentation also called for a large-scale fundraising effort for financial aid aligning with the university's plan to increase endowment to $2 billion by 2012.

"This would make sure that high academically achieving upper classman could be rewarded financially for their hard work," Hannah said.

"The conversation we had that day is not over," Hannah said. "We're going to get some more feedback from them and find out how we can better the financial aid situation of Baylor,"