The Daily Gamecock

Student senate passes bill supporting student vote on board of trustees

On Wednesday, Oct. 23, the student senate voted in support of a resolution calling for the student body president to be able to vote on the board of trustees. 

The resolution, SPL 1-11-37, was pushed into the student senate by second-year political science student Sawyer McDuffie. He said the reason for the resolution comes from the idea that students are stakeholders in the university by virtue of the money they pay to attend. 

“I think because we are paying such a large amount to go here ... we should have more than just a member on the board who gets to talk, but doesn’t really get to vote,” McDuffie said.  

While the student senate passed this resolution in favor of allowing the student body president a vote on the board of trustees, it is simply a statement of acceptance of the idea and does not give Student Body President Luke Rankin a vote on the board. Only the state legislature holds the true power to afford Rankin the vote.

McDuffie said there isn’t a clear-cut reason why the student body president can’t vote. According to him, it was just an issue no one had thought to deal with at the time. 

“It’s not that the people who originally made the board of trustees or the bylaws said, 'No, the students can’t vote,'” McDuffie said. “It just wasn’t a thing then ... it's not that people were against them at one time, it just wasn't an issue.”

Rankin said the idea of a voting student body president was important to students at the university. 

“I am very supportive of there being a student vote on the board of trustees, and that student being the student body president," Rankin said. "I think it makes natural sense ... and that would be the natural pick, I should say, because the student body president is elected by the majority of the student body."

McDuffie said some people might be against having a student vote on the board of trustees because students are still young.

"But I mean if you look at it, we’re old enough to pay taxes; we’re old enough to be adults; have responsibilities; be tried in court as an adult; as well as take on thousands, and if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars of debt and to make life changing decisions that are going to last for the rest of our lives,” McDuffie said. 

Speaker of the Student Senate Davis Latham said he wanted the vote to not only consider students at Columbia, but also consider the wishes of other University of South Carolina campuses. 

“If a student vote is passed by the South Carolina General Assembly, there are some fundamental issues I would like to see addressed, including ensuring that the vote is for ALL students, including those at our satellite campuses,” Latham said in an email. 

While Rankin said he believes this idea is important, he also recognizes it isn’t up to him, or even the senate, if this will actually happen. 

“This resolution can act as evidence that shows that the student senate and that Student Government is in support of the student body president having a voting say, but this would not be an 'up the chain ladder.' This is a completely separate thing from our state senate,” Rankin said.