Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Bored of Directors

Students often voice many grievances against the university administration for its lack of transparency. There is one area, however, in which the university has taken necessary steps to include students in conversations about university governance – now is the time for it to do more.

As with most organizations, Georgetown has a board of directors to oversee its operations and finances. Having a student voice in this representative body is crucial – and while the current framework does allow for student involvement, the influence of students is limited.

In the current system, the Georgetown University Student Association president, currently Calen Angert (MSB ’11), appoints a student – typically a junior – to a two-year term on the board of directors after a campus-wide application process. During the first year, the student acts as a “shadow,” then as an “observer” during the second year. Both students report to the Committee on Main Campus Affairs; they inform the members regarding important issues such as student safety, student space, student finances and wireless availability. Neither student participates in the general business meeting nor has voting privileges. (The GUSA president is invited to the general business meeting but also does not have a vote.)

Beyond the membership concerns, the university must make an effort to be more transparent with regard to the board of directors. Little is known about the directors’ priorities or initiatives for the community. Perhaps most troublesome, however, is the failure to inform the public of the board’s meetings. Some institutions post their calendars to allow for greater dialogue and debate. The George Washington University has its board of trustees’ meeting schedule posted on [its Web site](https://trustees.gwu.edu/). The University of Pennsylvania makes available [online](https://www.archives.upenn.edu/faids/upa/upa1/upa1.html) all official documents from its board of trustees since 1749. There should be nothing secretive about university business; everyone at Georgetown has a vested interest in what discussions take place in the boardroom.

Decisions should not be made without the proper consultation of students; moreover, students should have an independent voice in these deliberations. The University of California’s board of regents, which governs the entire UC system, has an elected student regent as a full voting member. While most schools do almost nothing to recognize student concerns in their governance, Georgetown should take a different path. It is time for the university to seriously consider granting a vote to the “observer” on the board of directors and making that person a full member.

We recommend that the present framework be only slightly modified. Given past student-government election history, the student representative should not be an elected position. The application process should remain, since those students most invested in and most serious about the position will inevitably be the ones who apply; the GUSA president should then appoint the best-qualified candidate to a two-year term.

This two-year term on the board of directors is essential because it requires not only a steadfast commitment and awareness of the board’s functioning, but also vision and tact. To allow for continuity and ease of transition, the shadow role (with no vote) should be left unaltered, as should the GUSA president’s engagement with the board of directors.

The board of directors brings together some of the most active, well-known and well-connected alumni and friends of Georgetown. Its work on behalf of past, current and future students is vital to the sustainability of the university’s mission and its future success. Currently, the student representatives merely contribute to the discussions the board takes on. Extending the clout of the second-year student representative role by giving him or her voting power would provide a concrete and worthy student contribution to university decisions.

*To send a letter to the editor on a recent campus issue or Hoya story or a viewpoint on any topic, contact [opinionthehoya.com](opinionthehoya.com). Letters should not exceed 300 words, and viewpoints should be between 600 to 800 words.*”

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