At the Pitzer Student Senate meeting on Sunday, Sept. 25, Senate members unanimously ratified Resolution 53-R-1, which proposes the addition of a Student and Young Alumni Representative to the Pitzer Board of Trustees. This resolution will be shared with the Alumni Board at their Oct. 8 meeting and will be brought to the Board of Trustees at their next meeting.
Senior Class President Chance Kawar PZ ‘17, who co-authored the resolution with Student Senate President Josue Pasillas PZ ‘17, said that the resolution is meant to provide diversity to the voices on Pitzer’s Board of Trustees and extend Senate’s long tradition of shared governance between students, faculty, and alumni.
“All of the people on [the Board of Trustees] are prominently wealthy, retired faculty, retired business leaders, or people in private business sector, or very wealthy parents or alumni. And so it's not a very diverse body in terms of the views that the body is representing,” he said.
According to Pasillas, because students are the largest constituency in the college, they should have a voice on every committee.
“Pitzer prides itself on shared governance, and we have a core value of student engagement, yet there is no student on the Board of Trustees currently,” he said.
Kawar and Pasillas researched how Boards of Trustees are structured at other colleges in the United States. They found that 20.1 percent of private institutions had at least one student on their Board of Trustees, according to the Association of Governing Boards.
Kassidy Cuccia-Aguirre PZ ‘18, Student Alumni Relations Committee Liaison, said that she anticipates alumni and trustees will be very receptive to this resolution because it allows them to talk directly to the students.
Pasillas thinks that this resolution will help alleviate concerns that the Board of Trustees cannot connect with the students.
“Today, students are more engaged in the governing process of our institution than ever before, so this is a great time to add new representatives,” he said.
According to Kawar, there will be a rigorous vetting process to join the Board of Trustees. In addition to being vetted by the Student Senate Executive Board, applicants would have to be screened by the Board of Trustees. Kawar, Pasillas, and the sponsors of the resolution want to make sure that students who apply “are prepared for the responsibilities and have a thorough understanding of the shared governing process and that they can make the two year commitment.”
Cuccia-Aguirre foresees confidentiality as a potential concern for the Board of Trustees.
“There are a lot of things that students are not supposed to know about yet or things that are in the process of being developed and they don't want students to get too involved too early,” she said.
However, she thinks this problem is easily fixed: the student on the Board of Trustees could sign a confidentiality agreement to ensure they would not discuss the meetings with any peers.
Overall, Kawar believes that bringing a student perspective into the Board of Trustees will allow for more collaboration between the leaders of Pitzer and the student body.
“Pitzer College exists for students. It's an educational institution where we're educating students,” he said. “So the people that are running the college should make sure that they have the student voices and student perspectives included in the governance processes.”