Reber proposes voting student BOV member
Summer’s events spark Board reform initiative; Student Council member's proposal requires legislative approval, legal change
The Board of Visitors may find itself with a voting student member, if some members of Student Council have their way. But the proposal’s supporters face significant obstacles, not least of which is the legal requirement in Virginia that Board members be approved by the State Senate, House of Delegates and governor.
Fourth-year Engineering student Alex Reber, chair of Council’s representative body, is leading an effort to add a student position with voting power to the Board, which is the University’s governing body. The current student position, held by fourth-year College student Hillary Hurd, is a non-voting position.
“Students should have a voice in how our school is governed,” Reber said. “Hurd [has] a voice, but this would be not only a voice but a vote. There’s a big difference between who can vote and who can’t.”
Events this summer surrounding the Board’s ouster of University President Teresa Sullivan set the stage for such a proposal to garner the community’s attention.
“With the [current] political climate, [we have] the best chance of making this happen in 20 years,” Reber said.
But Council needs to do more than gain support for this initiative. Virginia’s law would need to be changed for another position to be added to the Board.
Reber and others are currently setting up meetings with administrators to see whether the proposal has administrative backing.
Law Prof. George Cohen, chair of the Faculty Senate, said that he would listen to the proposal if it was presented to him, but he sees no reason why a student voting position should be added.
“It’s more important to have a seat at the table and be actively engaged in discussion than to have a vote,” he said. “We already have a non-voting student member.”
Hurd declined to comment about whether the student position on the Board should be a voting position.
Donald Sensabaugh contributed to this report.
The original version of the article identified Reber as a College student but he is an Engineering student.