Our view: Giving students a vote

DKS Editors

Summary: The Ohio House voted last month to allow voting rights for student trustees on university boards. We support this measure and hope it provides students a greater voice in university decision-making.

Ohio House Bill 111, which passed in December and is in committee in the state Senate, is an effort to allow student trustees to have voting rights on their university boards. Of the 33 states that have student trustees, 28 of those have full voting rights for students.

For now, student trustees at Kent State can attend board meetings, executive sessions and committee meetings to give their opinions on the issues being discussed, but they do not vote on those matters.

Ohio is in the minority on this issue, and opponents of voting rights for student trustees have said it would be a conflict of interest to vote on issues affecting their university’s professors and students — in addition to themselves.

We think student trustees deserve full voting rights. They do everything the other trustees do and should be held accountable for the board’s decisions, but withholding their right to a vote does not give student trustees the equality they deserve.

In terms of the ethical issue of voting on matters that affect themselves, we do understand the argument but disagree with it. As student journalists, we have to cover our professors, administrators and fellow students constantly, but it is a part of our job to step back from our roles as students and see all sides of the issue.

The Ohio governor carefully selects the student trustees, and they, like us, should be able to fairly judge what is best for students other than themselves. We think restricting voting rights does not give student trustees enough credit for their ability to be impartial.

Kent State also has never had a position on the voting-rights issue, and, in our opinion, this sounds like the university opposes it. We would appreciate knowing its official stance on it and why.

It is fair to give student trustees the chance to express their opinions and be representative of the interests of other students, but this power is limited by their lack of voting rights. We hope the Ohio Senate votes to pass HB 111.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.