MU students push for student curator right to vote

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Abigail Thomas, a member of the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, testified in favor of the bill that would grant the student member on the board of curators a vote on university issues. Photo by Youyou Zhou/Missouri News Horizon.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — University of Missouri students appeared before state lawmakers Tuesday to seek a louder voice in guiding the university.

The students came to testify in favor of legislation that would give the student representative on the University of Missouri’s nine-member Board of Curators the right to vote on university affairs.

In addition to extending a vote to the student representative, the legislation would also require the student curator to be a state resident who has been both an undergraduate and graduate student at the University of Missouri. The student curator position would also be required to rotate between the four campuses of the University of Missouri system.

Student lobbyists from the Associated Students of the University of Missouri have been pushing for the bill for several years. Abigail Thomas, of ASUM, told a House committee on higher education that the students are paying 49 percent of the University of Missouri budget, while the state is responsible for 38 percent, an amount likely to decrease this year. She said it is unfair for students as constituents not to have a voice in the decision making of the university system.

“The student member on the board needs to effectively represent other students,” Thomas said. “Giving them a vote would give them legitimate and permanent voice on the board."

Laura Confer, who has served as the student curator since 2009, also testified in favor of the bill. She told the Committee that under her tenure, she agreed with most of the decisions made by other curators, but said she regrets not being able to vote in opposition to recent budget cuts.

While the bill guarantees voting rights to the student curator on university issues, the student may not have to the right to vote on any personnel decisions concerning the hiring or firing of faculty or staff to prevent any potential conflict of interest.

A similar bill was approved by the General Assembly in 2008, but was vetoed by former Gov. Matt Blunt.