Missouri House committee shoots down bill adding voting student to Board of Curators

Tuesday, March 6, 2012 | 7:20 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — The future of adding a voting student representative to the UM System Board of Curators is now in the hands of the Missouri Senate.

Three House bills regarding a voting student curator failed to pass the House Higher Education Committee meeting Tuesday morning.

Now, the focus turns to Senate Bill 747, sponsored by Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia. It would replace the current nonvoting student representative with a voting student curator. That representative would have to be a graduate student or professional student but could represent any of the board's congressional districts and would serve a two-year term.

Representatives from the Associated Students of the University of Missouri have been testifying in favor of voting student curator bills since the legislative session began in January. The group represents students from the University of Missouri System in state legislative issues.

At Tuesday's hearing, ASUM legislative intern Abigail Thomas briefly testified in support of the voting student curator bills. According to its website, the group has supported legislation to put a voting student curator on the board every year since 1975. 

"The university has nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving students a vote," Thomas said.

ASUM representatives also testified Monday at a public hearing of the Senate's Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee in favor of Schaefer's bill.

The group's Assistant Legislative Director Nicole Phillips said Tuesday that she is optimistic about an upcoming vote on Schaefer's bill and that ASUM's focus is now turned to the Senate.

The hearing Tuesday was for a third student curator bill sponsored by Rep. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, designed to clarify that the governor can appoint a student to one of the nine established curator positions. Schupp argued that there's currently no statute stopping the governor from appointing a student that way and that her bill would make the option clear.

A pair of voting student curator bills sponsored by Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, and Rep. Zach Wyatt, R-Kirksville, were discussed at the committee's public hearing last week. Those two bills mirrored Schaefer's bill in the Senate. One of of the bills would allow any student — not just a graduate or professional student — to be appointed to the Board of Curators.

In the committee's executive session, members voted on each bill to decide whether or not to send it to the House floor. All three failed to pass with seven votes against and four votes in favor.

Student curator Amy Johnson, a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and non-voting representative to the board, said she's focused on her role as a student representative, not a lobbyist for a new student curator position.

"I'm focused on the job I have now," Johnson said. "And my job is to represent the students however I can."

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