Task Force Proposes Changes to Student-Trustee Relations

Recommendations from the Pomona College Student-Trustee Task Force are complete, and if the Student Affairs Committee passes them this morning, the Board of Trustees will vote on whether or not to implement the recommendations in its full board meeting this weekend.    

The recommendations include an increase in the number of student-trustee dinners, more information on the Trustee website, a change in the structure of the Student Affairs Committee (SAC), and three more students included on trustee committees.    

“Particularly, the Student Affairs Committee could do more to enhance its mission of connecting students and trustees,” said Associated Students of Pomona College President Nate Brown PO ‘12, who currently is the only student sitting on the SAC.    

The specific proposals for the SAC are creating a student co-chair position, adding more students to the committee and creating an e-mail address so that students could send concerns directly to the committee co-chairs. 

“That was one of the really big problems last year,” Brown said. “Students didn’t feel like they had an avenue [through] which to direct their comments.” 

Brown said that the e-mail address is a step toward bridging that communication gap.     

“It’s good to see that there are trustees who are really open to our ideas, and interested in knowing what’s going on on campus and what we’re thinking about,” task force member Emi Young PO ’13 said.    

Young participated in the vigil outside of Alexander Hall last year in response to the firing of 17 Pomona employees, and said the student activists felt disconnected from the trustees.

“There was a lot of frustration, because the trustees were completely separate, in a way almost uninterested, because we weren’t seeing a response back from most of them,” Young said.    

Outside of the task force, there are currently four students including Brown who sit on trustee committees. One is on the Advancement Committee, one is on the Academic Committee and one is on the Buildings and Facilities Committee. The task force recommendations include an increase of one student for each of these committee. All six students would also serve on the SAC with the ASPC president.    

Brown said that a student co-chair of the SAC would be chosen. This student would be either the ASPC president or another student who might have more experience with trustee committees.

“That would be decided on a year-to-year basis,” Brown said. “The committee would really be more responsible for outreach and communication between the student body and the trustees.”    

Young said that the task force’s recommendations should not be the end of the discussion.    

“One of the things that we’re [emphasizing] is that students should come back in a year, and five years after that, and reevaluate, see if [the recommendations are] meeting their needs, or if there needs to be more action,” she said.     

Other schools at the 5Cs have similar student involvement in the Board of Trustees.    

ASCMC President Jessica Mao CM ‘12 sits on the Finance Committee as well as the Student Affairs Committee. The vice president of ASCMC appoints a minimum of two students to serve on other committees, including Academic Affairs, Advancement, and Buildings and Grounds.    

The trustees “want consistent student involvement,” Mao said. A trustee with whom she spoke mentioned wanting consistency in representation, she added. 

“If a student starts out as a freshman they would go through until they’re a senior,” Mao said.    

At Harvey Mudd College, three students are elected at the end of the spring semester to serve on the Educational Planning Committee, the Campus Physical Plant Committee, and the Student Affairs Committee. Those students are elected every spring to serve the following year.

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