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Graham Proposes Student Vote on Board of Curators

January 17, 2002
By: Matt Williams
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 1527

JEFFERSON CITY - MU students would get a greater voice in future tuition increases and university policy under a proposal to have a voting student member of the UM Board of Curators.

The bill, filed by Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, would require one of the nine curators to be a full-time student at one the UM System's four campuses. Currently, a student representative serves on the board but does not have a vote.

Graham said he always thought students should have a vote, since their tuition is a large part of the university's budget.

"If they're investors in the institution, I think they should have a say over the policies," he said.

Graham said he is impressed by the performance of past student representatives to the board, but said without a vote, their power is limited.

"They're not always treated with respect, and their opinions are not treated as valuable as the rest of the curators," he said. "They can voice their concerns, but they don't have any real power."

Stephen Sugg, the current student representative, said he thinks having a voting student member is something that is long overdue.

"There are times that I felt that I didn't have the same access and respect as my colleagues," he said.

Pointing out that students have borne an increasing percentage of the university's budget over the past decades, Sugg said that not having a voting student member is taxation without representation.

The plan has the support of the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, a lobbying group representing students in the UM System. Former Board President Hugh Stevenson has also signed off on the proposal, saying student representatives have always looked at issues very responsibly.

Graham said other schools, such as his alma mater, Illinois, have a voting student member and that the idea should be considered here.

Curator Angela Bennett said she hadn't seen the proposal, but was not opposed to the idea.

"I don't have any problem with giving a student a vote," she said.

Under the proposal, HB 1527, the governor would appoint a student to the board for two-year terms. The bill would not eliminate the current position of student representative.