The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Students make voices heard in Trustee committees

By Blythe Austin

Last week’s Board of Trustees’ meeting involved a new experiment: the trustees spent less time in committee meetings and devoted more time to meeting with students, particularly the student representatives to Trustee committees. Normally, the Board of Trustees spends most of its time on campus divided into committees, each of which focuses on a particular aspect of Macalester life. For several years now, most of these committees have included student representatives chosen by the Macalester College Student Government at the beginning of the year. However, often these students have not felt actively involved.

This time, as the Board’s student liaison, my goal was to make the student representatives feel more integrated with the Board. So, in addition to the representatives attending committee meetings, they also had two dinners and a lunch with the trustees. The result: students later said that they felt more comfortable participating in committee deliberations.

The influence of student participation most strongly manifested itself in the Academic Affairs Committee, which discussed the proposed reduction in the faculty sabbatical cycle from seven to four years. By Board procedure, such a change would need to be approved through a motion by the full Board. But before this can happen, the Academic Affairs Committee must pass a motion to bring the issue forward for a full Board vote at the next meeting. Generally this would only happen when the committee reaches some consensus on the issue at hand.

The student representatives on Academic Affairs devoted a lot of time to learning about the proposed sabbatical change, and decided that having the Board vote on the issue in May would not be in the best interest of students. Rather, they felt the Board should hold off until next year before further discussing the policy.

They made this argument in the committee meeting. The Provost and faculty, who favored a May vote, also expressed their views. Such contention meant that the committee could not reach any sort of consensus. No motion was put forward to have the Board vote in May-an impressive example of student voices impacting Macalester’s policymaking process.

Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions about the proposed sabbatical change or the Academic Affairs Committee meeting.

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