Giving a student a seat on the Alamo Colleges board of trustees is a nice gesture, but it stops short of giving us what we really want: fair representation.
The Alamo Colleges represent nine districts; therefore, nine trustees sit on the board. Sounds pretty fair.
They attend board meetings and vote on important issues that will impact students, faculty and staff at all of the Alamo Colleges.
The board found a loophole so they don’t have to follow the same procedure in appointing a student trustee.
Major universities like the University of Texas System have elected student trustees, but there is no statute for community colleges to elect them.
By choosing a student rather than electing one, the board is able to give us a nonvoting student trustee.
On the surface it sounds like they are doing something for students, but in actuality the student trustee is restricted in what he or she can do.
The student trustee, will be allowed to attend meetings, except for executive sessions, which the Texas Open Meetings Act allows for the discussion of such items as legal issues, personnel matters and security concerns.
The student trustee also cannot look at nonpublic materials from executive sessions, all of which means the board has control over the information the student trustee is privy to.
It is great that trustees want input from a student trustee, but if they really wanted input that represents the students, they would take this gesture one step further and give us one student trustee from each of the five colleges.
One student cannot be expected to represent the 65,000 students who attend all the Alamo Colleges.
According to the student demographics posted on the district website; 67.9 percent are Hispanic, 29.6 percent are white, 6.2 percent are African-American and 6.4 percent other.
Overall, we are a largely Hispanic group; however, some schools have a larger Hispanic population than others.
This college and Palo Alto are largely Hispanic; St. Philip’s is a historically black college.
Will this student know where the students from the different schools are coming from? What they value?
The district has found a way to give us what we want – to be heard.
But appointing a student to basically sit in on meetings and answer questions stops short of giving us a say in policy that directly affects us.
Perhaps the district is afraid of what might happen if the students actually had a say on policy.