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Board needs student regent

Nov. 2, 2006

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Ben Humeniuk/Lariat Staff
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STAFF EDITORIAL

How might you feel if your opinion as a student was sought out by the Board of Regents before the board set tuition prices?

This is merely one example of the experiences of University of Texas at Austin's student regent, Brian Haley. Haley was elected to the UT's Board of Regents after 2005 legislation made a position on all public university boards of regents available to student representatives.

Currently, student government representatives present the student perspective to Baylor's Board of Regents. However, student body President Mark Laymon, External Vice President Allan Marshall and Internal Vice President Travis Plummer recently raised concerns about the briefness of the students' allocated speaking time during the last board meeting.

Representatives of the Board of Regents said this brevity was felt by all presenting members of the meeting, and the regents plan to restructure the scheduling of February's board meeting to allow for more discussion.

While students at public universities across Texas and the nation do not have voting rights as a regent, the representative participates in every board meeting and serves the student body for a one-year term.

As a private institution, Baylor's Board of Regents operates on a more exclusive and private level when compared to such schools as the University of Texas.

However, electing a student regent at Baylor would dramatically increase the representation of students during each board meeting.

Instead of risking the possible compromise of students' opinions, the board should welcome a student figure who would hold a more permanent and vocal role in regent meetings.

Regent Minette Pratt told the Lariat in an Oct. 26 interview that the regents "want students to know that we want what's best for them."

She also said that the rushed meeting was a one-time incident.

"We hope this won't affect students' attitudes toward the board, and we want them to have the most wonderful experience possible at Baylor and we're dedicated to fulfilling that," she said. If the board truly wants the best for the student body at Baylor, board members should encourage the election of a student regent representative.

Haley, the UT representative, was quoted in a February 2006 UT news release saying, "I'm engaged in conversations going on with the board ... The other members of the board know to contact me when they have questions about student concerns."

If the regents really want what's best for students, what better way for the regents to keep in touch with the student perspective than have a student participant in board meetings?

The student would not vote on decisions made by the regents, but the board members would be more accurately informed on student issues.

While the position is controversial at a private institution, Baylor wants to be more recognized among other Big 12 universities.

Allowing the election of a student regent would help Baylor compete with public schools and also set us apart among private universities nationwide.