Can student trustees really make a difference?

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Student trustee and alternate should be allowed to vote, attend executive sessions.

At a special board meeting April 7, five students from the Alamo Colleges will interview for the position of student trustee and trustee alternate for a one-year term from May 1 to April 30, 2016.

Both serve as the voice of students for all Alamo Colleges, and both must attend every board meeting.

However, the student trustee and the alternate do not actually have a vote at the board meetings. Nor can they attend a meeting’s executive session, according to Alamo Colleges policy.

This is not necessarily uncommon, says a 2010 article on the website of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. It states that in some instances, “student trustees participate in full meetings of the board but do not have a formal vote and are not involved in executive sessions.”

Executive sessions, which are not open to the public, serve as a forum to discuss personnel and other sensitive issues. The board cannot vote during them.

But what is the point of student trustees going to the board meetings if they are not allowed to vote or attend executive sessions?

Either the student trustee or the alternate should be able to vote on issues at each meeting. They should also be allowed in executive session.

The students have a voice but no vote, and they deserve to know what’s going on behind closed doors.


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