A student could potentially attend Boston University Board of Trustees’ meetings next year thanks to a proposal put forth by BU Student Government earlier this month.
The proposal would allow a student, who is chosen by SG, to sit in on the board’s meetings, but the student would not be able to ask questions or vote, SG President Jake Brewer said. The proposal, which was brought forward by the College of Arts and Sciences senior, would also let the current SG president sit alongside the student.
The proposal also establishes a standing committee in SG, the committee for trustee observation, which oversees the non-voting student that would attend the meetings. Brewer said the reasoning behind the proposal came from BU President Robert Brown’s perceived lack of involvement with student life.
“President Brown, his role, like it or not … isn’t to interact with students, and the real decisions are being made by the Board of Trustees and those meetings are with the provost and President Brown,” Brewer said.
The proposal is in the process of being finalized, Brewer said, who is scheduled to meet with Brown on May 5 about the issue. Brewer said it is important for Brown to know that “a lot of other universities have students sitting on the Board of Trustees, and usually it is through SG that those students are chosen.”
Brewer said student access to the meetings is vital for students to understand the decision-making process at BU regardless of what is being deliberated in the meeting. By understanding what goes on at the meetings, students can better navigate how to tackle important issues like divestment and tuition, he added.
“I think that it will direct energy away from President Brown and towards where energy being invested would be productive,” Brewer said. “When it comes to things like tuition, [having a student at meetings] would let us all feel a little more at ease about where our money is being spent.”
SG Vice President of Internal Affairs Jane Dimnwaobi said the proposal adds a necessary channel of communication between the administration and students, especially when it comes to making big decisions.
“My perspective, from being in student [government] this past year, is that transparency and dialogue are key to better representing BU students,” Dimnwaobi said. “This proposal to have a student on the [Board of Trustees] is crucial to this, and I am hopeful that the president sees the value in this and allows a student position in future years.”
Brewer said important decisions are not made solely by the board, but also by members of administration.
“President Brown is involved with the decision-making, and so is the provost, and so are a bunch of other people, but seeing that process would both empower activists to know more of what is going on and take more issue with the process itself and specific things,” Brewer said.
Katherine Cornetta, the assistant to the Dean of Students, said students are actually already involved with the Board of Trustees when it comes to its decisions on spending. The board sometimes allows students to attend meetings, she said.
“Students currently participate in the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing, which may at times include attending meetings of the Board of Trustees’ Student Affairs Committee,” Cornetta wrote in an email.
Several students said it is important to have a student representative on the Board of Trustees to speak for them.
Benjamin Levine, a second-year graduate student in the School of Law, said the Board of Trustees should have a student representative because of the impact of its decisions.
“It’s always good to have student representation in a meeting where big decisions are being made about the university,” Levine said. “Overall, I think it’s good idea.”
Monique Peyreau, a CAS junior, said students should be able to oversee how their tuition is spent.
“I actually am for this [proposal],” Peyreau said. “It’s kind of weird to see where our money is actually going, and it’s kind of unfair to see that there are no students that actually have a say in where our money goes and how it gets spent.”
Jacqueline Loring, a College of General Studies freshman, said it is crucial for students to have representation in the meetings.
“I think that’s a good idea,” Loring said. “I think students should be represented in the decisions.”