With SGA election season in full-swing, increasing student interaction with the Board of Regents (BoR) is a topic on many students’ minds. Currently, the two attitudes towards interacting with the BoR are at opposite ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, we have Tech’s SGA focusing on building relationships, being polite and not making waves. On the other, we have Georgia State’s Occupy-style protests, focused on disruption and anger. The problem is, neither of these two styles work. Playing nice and being polite have their place and work for minor issues, but students should not be afraid to advocate loudly for their goals and the needs of college students in Georgia. At the other extreme, obnoxious protests will not work either. Barging into meetings and disrupting proceedings only serves to make enemies and exacerbate tensions on both sides.
That is not to say that protesting does not have its place. More than any quiet negotiations, loud disagreement will result in awareness of the issue, which is exactly what is needed. Students—given their limited time in college and limited power while there—will have a hard time mustering the political pressure needed to force change, but they can influence those who will. Parents, alumni and families looking at college can all put pressure on the government that students alone never could, and, as such, students should raise as much awareness and political fuss as is necessary to get those people involved.
This, ultimately, is the most likely path to success. Getting a student on the BoR would have utility for the student body, but not enough to justify the effort required to accomplish such a goal. At the end of the day, all it would do is get a student representative into quorum meetings, where, most likely, the Regents have already made their decisions, and not necessarily into the private discussions where those decisions can be influenced. Given that this student would likely only be on the board for one or two years, his or her ability to influence the multi-year plans of the BoR will be severely hobbled. Ultimately, a BoR rep would have some usefulness, but the efforts required to get him here would be better spent petitioning the legislature and relevant stakeholders for change.