On Feb. 22, the presidents of Richmond College Student Government Association and Westhampton College Government Association will attend the board of trustees meeting to give a presentation about creating more transparency between students and the board members, senior RCSGA president Evan Harris said.
At the meeting, Harris and senior Taylor Michals, WCGA president, will have 45 minutes to describe what the student governments have done on campus during the past five years, Harris said. The presentation will include a video of students doing research and working with President Edward Ayers’ campaign, he said, and about 30 minutes of questions and answers.
The goal of the meeting is not to address track and field and soccer specifically, but rather to discuss the importance of more open communication when such decisions are made, Harris said. At meetings such as these, the board can ask student government representatives what they think the student reaction would be to certain decisions, Harris said.
It is important for both students and the administration members to be able to hear from each side, Michals said. Students were very upset after the track and field and soccer decisions and felt as if their views had not been heard, she said.
“We hope they’ll realize from our meeting that this is an effective form of communication,” Michals said.
Freshman RCSGA senator Harry Lambert, who sponsored “A Resolution Regarding Student Involvement in Decision-Making at the University of Richmond,” which was sent to Ayers and other board members at the end of October, said he was extremely optimistic about the presentation and hoped that the board would be receptive and responsive to lingering student concerns.
The resolution expressed four suggestions for how university officials could consider student voice, Lambert said. RCSGA stands by these four pillars, as discussion with the administration and the Board begins, he said.
First, RCSGA members requested that Ayers and those on the Board of Trustees be explicit with the information that they cannot release. Second, they requested greater student representation on administrative committees, particularly those with a direct impact on students.
Third, they asked that RCSGA and WCGA members be consulted before any decision impacting more than 300 students was made. Last, RCSGA members requested that two students be made members of the Board.
“The best way to safeguard the student voice is to put students in the room where the final decision is made,” Harris said. “This is a school with a lot of promise. I’m confident – given the reputation of the president and his administration for trying to engage with students – that there can be a balance between keeping students happy and maintaining administrative policies.”
Allowing Harris and Michals to attend the Board of Trustees meeting is a very positive first step, Harris said. Lambert also thinks it is encouraging that Ann Lloyd Breeden, secretary to the Board, is willing to meet with student government representatives and have a discussion about what the administration can do to help students, he said.
Breeden wrote in an email that the board was looking forward to the presentation by RCSGA and WCGA presidents and that the trustees very much valued the opportunity to talk directly with students.
Contact reporter Jessica Racioppi at firstname.lastname@example.org