Over the past week, the issue of whether SGA should attempt to get a student representative on the Board of Regents has generated debate between the undergraduate presidential campaigns of Hunter Hammond and Eran Mordel.
Hammond is in favor of a representative who would have complete visibility into the Board’s affairs and be allowed to engage in all of the Board’s discussions affecting students. The student need not have an actual vote.
“Having student representation on the Board of Regents, having a voice — that’s the most important part,” Hammond said.
Mordel doubted the value of getting a representative on the Board.
“While trying to place a student representative on the Board of Regents is a bold and innovative initiative, we are not sure this is the most viable and effective way to convey the student interests’ to the Board,” Mordel said in a statement on his campaign website.
Currently, the Board gauges student reaction and asks for input through the Student Advisory Council, which is a 35-member board composed of student body presidents from all the Georgia institutions.
“This group is very active, meets regularly and has a high level of interaction with the System Office through the Student Affairs department,” said Regents spokesman John Millsaps in an email. “In addition, the Chancellor, regents and senior staff participate in the SAC’s meetings.”
However, Hammond believes this group may not be as effective as its purpose may state.
“The council meets infrequently, and usually, they may meet with one of the regents or their secretaries,” Hammond said.
Mordel believes that this representative may not be able to fully execute the Student Advisory Council’s job.
“The Board of Regents represents all 35 university system institutions. Students from a four-year research institution like Tech have drastically different views toward education than students from a two-year, non-residential school like Bainbridge College in Bainbridge, GA,” Mordel said. “In order to have a student’s voice on the Board, the 35 schools from across the state must be in absolute unity.”
Hammond said he was prompted to suggest a student representative after last year’s HOPE and fee discussions.
“The problem with HOPE was a huge catalyst for bringing this up,” Hammond said. “The overall reaction has been that [students] need some way to be represented, and so let’s move forward with it.”
Mordel, however, did not see fee increases reason enough to pursue this endeavor.
“It’s not the best thing when a fee goes from $140 to $544, but if that [weren’t] the case, then we wouldn’t have the resources, time, money and faculty to provide for the level of education we’re receiving,” Mordel said. “That money has to come from somewhere.”
This is not the first time that plans for student representation on the Regents have been undertaken. Previous SGA Presidents Alina Staskevicius and Nick Welkamp attempted to create this position, but were unsuccessful due to a failure to get on the Board’s agenda, according to Hammond. He claims this year will be different.
“We have an ‘in’ with an adamant administrator here, who has a connection to a regent,” Hammond said.
This ‘in’ would allow Hammond to present the plan to the Board of Regents in their meetings. When asked to name the administrator, Hammond declined, saying that the administrator preferred not to be named.