Change may stifle student voice

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

A proposal to change the size of the Parking and Traffic Committee received unanimous disapproval from the Students’ Association on Sept. 28.

The proposal, which was drafted by the President’s Office, reduced student representation from five members to three.

“As a general rule, we were trying to get more consistent numbers of people on the committees,” said Mike Reger, vice president for administration. “There are a total of three committees that we were looking into reorganizing.”

Currently, SA nominates five senators to the Parking and Traffic Committee. Three faculty and three career service employees fill the other seats.

The new proposal reduced the original five student seats down to two undergraduate students, nominated by SA, and one graduate student nominated by the dean of the Graduate School.

Administrators had not intended to reduce student voice on the committee, Reger said. Instead, they were looking at ways to increase faculty involvement.

“What they were trying to do with the proposal was just bring some consistency to the overall size and compositions of the committees,” said Bob Otterson, executive assistant to the president. “The goal was not to have fewer student voices.”

At their Sept. 28 meeting, SA senators unanimously passed a resolution against the proposed changes.

“Currently the student to faculty ratio is 18:1,” said SA Senator Tim Goldammer, a senior hospitality management major. “The majority of people who park on campus are students, so it only makes sense that there should be student voices on the committee.”

The proposal stated that the other seats on the committee would be filled with three faculty members, two non-faculty/exempt employees and three career service employees.

Larry Rogers, chair of Academic Senate said he found it “odd” that the proposal decreased student representation.

“This was surprising, especially for the Parking and Traffic Committee,” said Rogers. “The majority of people that park on campus are students and faculty definitely comes in second in that department.”

Reger told the Parking and Traffic Committee on Sept. 29 that the proposal was only a draft, not the final copy. He said he would have liked to meet with student leaders before it was released, and he apologized for not talking to senators about the proposal until the meeting.

“It got a little ahead of us,” Reger said. “Talking to people is something we always want to do.”

Still, Reger admitted that attempting to cut down student numbers may not have been the best option.

“Maybe we jumped farther than we should have,” Reger said.

The Academic Senate was not involved in drafting the proposal.

“We had heard them discuss some reorganizing of the committees but I wasn’t aware that the number of students was going down,” said Nancy Marshall, secretary of Academic Senate.

SA members said they wanted to be sure students were fairly represented.

“We need to find a fair means for going over parking,” said Catherine Grandorff, state and local chair for SA and a senior English and Spanish major. “We need to preserve the ratio of faculty to students.”

The current proposal has not been approved and administration is “rethinking the proposal,” Reger said.

“Nothing is final,” said Reger. “We’re thinking about ways to put together committees like this one and others.”