EDITORIAL: Board needs more student voice

Editorial Staff

Increasing the number of students on the California State University Board of Trustees has been needed for some time and there are two bills in the legislature in need of the public’s support, especially from students.

Assembly Bills 1515 and 1965 are necessary to add more students’ voices when decisions are being made by the board.

Out of 20 appointed trustees on the board, just two are students. California State Senator Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, has introduced AB 1515, which would double the number of students on the board to four.

The student trustees work together but combine to cast just one vote. For a board that makes decisions affecting more than 400,000 students, to have just two students on the board cast one vote isn’t good enough.

“I do think we need more student representation,” said student trustee Steven Dixon.

Dixon doesn’t support adding more students to the board because he said it could result in student trustees having internal battles but still wants another student to have more of a say on the board.

“I think it should be done in giving the second student trustee a vote,” Dixon said.

State Assembly member Richard Pan introduced AB 1965, which would give ex-officio members the ability to send representatives on their behalf. The bill has passed the Assembly Committee on Higher Education easily by a vote of 5 to 1, but still has a way to go before reaching Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

“They are more responsive of the will of the people, pretty supportive of keeping students fees low,” said Brian O’Hara, press secretary for Pan. “He’s (Pan) supportive of increasing student representation.”

O’Hara said ex-officio members are more likely to vote in favor of students because they are all directly elected by the people and have a track record of being supportive to students. With ex-officio members often busy with work in Sacramento and unable to be in Long Beach to make a vote, AB 1965 getting passed would prevent important voices from being silent.

Associated Students Inc. is also keeping watch on the developments of the bills.

“I think anything to increase student participation or student advocacy would increase our own participation in higher education,” said Associated Students, Inc., Office of Governmental Affairs Director Sarah Couch. “We just have to be careful how we do it and do it in the most efficient manner.”

Hopefully, ASI and other student organizations will rally as many people as possible around these two bills and future ones like it. With tuition getting raised seemingly every semester, the board should hear about students’ struggles as often as possible from more than just a pair of students.

Without legislation being passed and continuous public pressure, it will remain business as usual in regards to price hikes every semester. However, students can’t afford business as usual for much longer.

While the board isn’t at fault for the state continually cutting the budget to higher education, it can show the concerns of the future of California are being kept in mind when tough decisions are being made and allow more voices to the table.

The Editorial Staff can be reached at [email protected]