Editorial: Regents shouldn’t choose rep for students

UnelectedRegentComic“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

This famous quote from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” actually belongs to minor character Marcellus, but this small line from a small character has come to resonate with all people seeking change in their governance.

Things aren’t as bad here  as they were in Hamlet’s Denmark— but the issue of the new student regent doesn’t pass the smell test.

Student Body President Kelly Rapp will hand down his position as student regent to a newcomer following’s the end of his one-year term.

His successor, Taylor Hoogendoorn, was named the student regent on Feb. 22, following an application process that narrowed candidates to three top picks. Hoogendoorn was then chosen directly by the Baylor Board of Regents without any input from the general student population.

We didn’t elect him. We didn’t choose him. Prior to this, we didn’t even know him.

In an Aug. 28, 2012, editorial, the Lariat commended the board for allowing us a voice among the regents in the first place. This was a step forward for Baylor, but in taking away our ability to select our representative, the regents have taken a step back. We were allowed to choose Kelly Rapp—why not choose the next as well?

Although we previously urged that the offices of student body president and student regent be connected, we do agree there are advantages to having the two be separate. However, the principle of election by the students must be maintained.

With all due respect to Hoogendoorn, how can he be the best candidate to represent students to the board when we know nothing about him? When we didn’t choose him?

In appointing a student regent, the board was seeking a student voice, but if board members are really interested in hearing the student perspective, they should be seeking a figure to serve as the voice of all students.

This can be achieved by allowing the students to elect their own representative who could voice the concerns of the many, and not one.

How could it hurt the regents to allow us to select the student regent, who is a non-voting member and only offers the student perspective anyway?  In doing so, they could only be praised.

Once upon a time, the lack of direct representation in their governance caused the population of a fledgling nation to rebel. They paid a cost in blood, treasure and trouble. It is an issue people are willing to die for — how could it be so little thought of here?

No taxation without representation! Or in this case, no tuition raises.

Furthermore, where is the student government in this debate? Will Kelly Rapp really just hand over the keys to the kingdom to an anonymous student?

Our student leaders should be leading the fight for our right to elect our representative. After all, didn’t they come to serve us by election? Surely they have an appreciation of how important representative representation is.

Without election by the student body, the student regent is little more than a placatory gesture that grants the illusion of representation when we have none.

If Hoogendoorn is indeed the best choice, we would like the right to decide that ourselves. Elections for the student regent should be opened in the spring, when we choose all of our other governing student officials.