Editor's note: A previous version of this article stated the student trustees had to be members of the student government.
University of Richmond student governments unanimously passed a joint resolution demanding the Board of Trustees add student and staff trustees on Feb. 2.
The resolution demands having a student from Westhampton College and Richmond College as elected student trustees with voting abilities. The staff trustees would be elected through their own selection process by the University Staff Advisory Council.
“Without student or staff voting members, the university community feels there is a lack of representation, transparency and visibility by the Board of Trustees,” the resolution reads. “Having student and staff trustees that can vote on impactful decisions related to the University of Richmond will greatly increase the Board of Trustee’s ability to listen to the voices of the university community.”
Last spring, the Board declared that it would not move forward with changing the building names of Ryland and Mitchell-Freeman halls. This led to students, who were in support of the Black Student Coalition, to protest against the Board’s verdict and disaffiliate from their respective organizations. The Board’s decision to not change the building names influenced the creation of the resolution, but the concerns were not limited to this issue.
[The resolution] shows that the student population is together and wants someone to represent them on the Board. It also speaks to the type of campus we need,” said Arju Patel, a junior and RCSGA speaker of the senate. “Shared responsibility isn’t just for students, faculty, and staff but also trustees.”
Additionally, the resolution demands greater transparency from the Board, including releasing an annual report on all the votes the Board makes. The third section asks that the Board holds events on campus so students have a chance to actively interact with Board members.
“The main thing about this resolution is building a relationship with the Board. Right now, the students do not have a relationship with the board at all,” said Penny Hu, junior and WCGA president.
Patel was not surprised to see the resolution had passed so quickly and unanimously, he said.
“I think it goes to show how united students really feel about being a part of the Board and being able to advocate for their peers,” he said.
The resolution was voted on at the student governments’ respective meetings and Hu said it would be available for the public to read as soon as members of the RCSGA, WCGA and two USAC representatives sign the resolution.
According to both WCGA and RCSGA, the process by which students will be elected as trustees has not been confirmed. Student trustees do not have to be members of WCGA or RCSGA, Hu said.
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“The student selection process can be voted on after this resolution passes, but right now, we are moving forward with the resolution as it is as it stands,” said Anthony Lawrence, senior and RCSGA president.
WCGA and RCSGA will reexamine how students would be elected to represent the student body through the Board at their Feb. 25 combined meeting, Hu said.
Contact news writer Ananya Chetia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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