Student Senate votes on student regents’ voting rights

A new Student Senate bill was passed on Thursday night which advocates voting rights for student regents. The bill's author and senate parliamentarian, Cypress senior Chris Seals, presents the contents of the bill to Student Senate. Photo credit: Liesje Powers

By Thomas Mott | Reporter

The Baylor Student Senate passed a bill Thursday evening that creates a request to the Baylor Board of Regents to allow the current and future student regents on the board to have a vote on all issues.

The bill’s author and senate parliamentarian, Cypress senior Chris Seals, and co-sponsor, Justin junior Caleb White, hope this bill will allow students to have a greater voice within the university.

“The most powerful way someone can voice their opinions is through a vote. As students, we believe that we have one of the most important voices in Baylor,” White said.

Currently, two students sit on the Board of Regents, but they have no voting power. Waco senior Emily Neel, a student currently on the board, said Thursday night that student regents are only allowed to sit in and listen to board meetings.

A press release from the Student Senate stated, “Student Senate aims to voice the concerns of students and remains an organization where student opinion can be expressed.”

Student Senate recommended that the Board of Regents give voting privilege to the two student regents.

“We are committed to diversifying the board membership so that our regents more fully reflect the Baylor family and the campus community,” Board of Regents chairman Ron Murff said in a statement.

Shortly after Murff’s statement, the Board of Regents created a review task force to recommend possible changes to the board.

The task force’s recommendations would allow voting rights to more members of the board, including two athletic-based regents. However, the task force recommended that the two student regents be the only members not allowed to vote.

“As soon as [the recommendations] came out, we started pretty much powering this together,” Seals said.

During the debate period, student senators argued that because students make up Baylor University, the two student regents should be allowed to vote on the important issues Baylor faces.

“Student regents offer very interesting and unique viewpoints that certain viewpoints may not have because there is a big disconnect,” White said.

While some senators voiced their concerns that student regents might not be qualified enough to vote, Seals and White argued that the student regents are vetted with extreme caution.

“There are students out there that are completely capable of making all of these important choices,” White said.

The senators argued that student regents are selected through a lengthy application and interview process. Under the Student Senate’s new proposal, student regents would serve two years on the board with full voting rights. The bill also recommends that the students be either juniors or seniors.

Student Body President Lindsey Bacque said during the debate that she has been in contact with the regents and and that she has strong reasons to believe the board is open to considering the idea. Upon passing in the Student Senate, SR64-13 will now be placed on Bacque’s desk to be signed.

If Bacque signs SR64-13, it will then be sent to Murff, interim President Dr. David E. Garland and other university leaders in hopes of showing the importance of allowing the two student regents to have a vote and voice for all Baylor students.

The board of regents will be voting on the task force’s recommendations on Feb. 16 or Feb. 17.

The senators that voted yes on this bill hope that the bill will be considered along with the task force’s recommendations.