The 2017-18 school year was a whirlwind for Student Government, marked by getting a bill for a student vote on the Board of Trustees introduced in both the House and the Senate as well as a House subcommittee hearing. The new Student Government executive board now takes over the legacy left by Ross Lordo and Nick Santamaria.
“Ross [Lordo] did amazing work last year kind of setting the groundwork, and Nick Santamaria was really influential in that in reaching out to legislators and setting meetings and I think they made a lot of progress,” Student Body President Taylor Wright said. “And I do think eventually it's a possibility to make it happen. I feel strongly that it should happen.”
Wright will work closely on the bill with Taylor Bradley, his Secretary of Government Relations. Bradley worked under Santamaria last year as the Deputy of Government Relations and is now leading the effort to set meetings and talk to legislators.
“She’s got the background as to some of the data that supports students being voting members on their institution’s Board of Trustees,” Lordo said. “She’s also built relationships herself with different elected officials so to be able to harness those as well as have a background in the issue at hand will allow her to be really powerful this next year.”
The current temperature of the trustees is mixed, according to Lordo. One vote will not change the university, but he does believe that one vote should be granted to students.
“I think each trustee has a unique opinion. I think that there are many that are in favor and there’s obviously some that are hesitant,” Lordo said. “I think there’s always a fear of change ... we have to figure out how to use facts more so than opinions in driving the message home.”
Each student body president takes his or her own approach to the job. Wright has been given a challenging task to push forward during his year-long term. This is a slow-moving process involving many elected officials and their opinions on the bill.
“If anything, I’ve learned that the process literally moves so slow. I think after just laying out the actual plan for it, it’s very long term and it’s kind of hard whenever the legislators’ terms are for two years and student government, ours is only a couple of months,” Bradley said. “But pretty much ... it requires a lot of patience ... a lot of patience and understanding.”
Lordo’s goals while in office were to get the bill in the House and Senate. Now that those goals have been met in addition to the House subcommittee, Wright is hoping to seamlessly weave the bill into his campaign platform.
“I think one of my big goals this year is having a student voice in every decision that’s made in every part of the university, and I think the vote on the Board of Trustees kind of goes hand in hand with that,” Wright said.
Getting a student vote in the Board of Trustees has already taken a year of work and will take more hard work by the current administration. However, the importance of the vote keeps people like Wright and Bradley working every day to advance the bill.
“I think when we look at the board now, that essentially, we have a student representation there so we can say that we have a student representation, but students have no say,” Bradley said. “You can put as much input as you want, but it’s kind of like the idea of your voice being heard through your vote.”