Graham’s student curator bill passes Senate

Thursday, April 3, 2008 | 5:11 p.m. CDT; updated 11:57 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — After a decade of attempts, Sen. Chuck Graham’s bill to give the student curator a vote on the Board of Curators for the University of Missouri has passed the Senate.

Currently the student curator is a non-voting member of the board. He or she can attend all meetings and events, including secret meetings, but cannot vote. This bill would allow the student a vote on anything excluding staff hiring or firings of staff with the exception of the president.

“People act like it’s the first step on the moon,” Graham said. “But 25 percent of universities have voting student curators,” he said, citing the student curators’ intimate knowledge of the university and its respective tuition costs.

The Columbia senator’s bill is contingent on Missouri losing a congressional district in the 2010 Census. According to the senator, Missouri has a good chance of losing a district due to the shift in populations across the U.S.

Graham said under current state law, the Board of Curators must have nine members. It is only coincidental that Missouri has nine congressional districts. However, law does state that there cannot be more than one curator from each district. If Missouri is to lose a congregational district, the state will have to find a way to appoint a curator that is not from one of the eight districts, or will have to change the law.

Graham’s bill would allow the student to be from any of the eight congressional districts.

The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 31 to 2, after a decade of being voted down. Sen. Brad Lager, R-Maryville, voted against the bill, saying the student curator would be caught in “the eye of the storm,” too wrapped up in a student identity to make decisions that would be good for the university in the long term.

“Curators are chosen with the perspective of making the best decisions for the institution,” said Lager. “That’s hard to do when you’re a product of that institution day in and day out,” he said, stressing the responsibilities of curators to “view with long-term vision.”

Graham disagrees.

“We let students vote for president, for myself and for Sen. Lager, I don’t know why they can’t be trusted to vote on the Board of Curators,” adding that problems cited by other senators haven’t happened in states that currently allow their student member to vote.

“Tuition has increased at the University of Missouri every year except one since 1973,” said Graham. “When you consider that fact along with declining state support of higher education in recent years, it shows that students should have a say in how much their education costs.”

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