The University Student Union Board of Directors plans to vote next month on revisions to its bylaws that could affect how long directors can serve on the board, among other changes.
The new term limits, which will be voted on at the board’s Nov. 21 meeting if the group has enough voting members present, are part of a new draft of the board’s bylaws that were created by an ad hoc committee earlier this year.
The ad hoc committee was chosen by the board to conduct a comprehensive review of the bylaws and recommend any necessary changes to the board of directors, who would then vote to approve or disapprove the changes.
The USU Bylaws Ad Hoc Committee’s proposed draft has not been approved, amended or rejected yet because of various delays, according to board members.
One of the changes proposed to the bylaws, among others, is to limit the length of time a student can serve as chair or vice chair to two years. Prior versions of the bylaws did not include such term limits.
Current board chair Bobby Rodgers was selected as chair twice, once in June 2003 and again in June 2005. Rodgers was first appointed to the board in April 2002.
According to Debra Hammond, executive director of the USU and non-voting member on the board, one term on the board is two years. The student body typically elects board members in the spring semester, and the board chooses its own chair and vice chair.
“The committee felt that if a person had served on the board for four years that was probably the length of service they need to give to this corporation, and that they probably then need to go to another organization on campus or graduate,” Hammond said. “If one person stays on the board for six years that really takes away from other students’ opportunity to sit on a corporation board that has a operating budget of $6.2 million dollars a year and learn how to run a corporation.”
According to Hammond, the duties of the board members include approving the budget of the USU, reviewing the budget on a quarterly basis, determining fiscal, marketing and facilities policies, approving new vendors in USU facilities, survey assessment, approving renovation projects, long-range planning and analyzing the structure of the organization.
According to Joseph Pourshalimy, a student representative on the USU board, changes to the first three sections of the bylaws were approved by the board in July.
“It took two and a half hours just to do that much, and if we don’t have all 12 voting members show up to the meetings we cannot conduct the vote, because for a change to be made, two-thirds of the board must approve it,” he said.
Pourshalimy said the new bylaws’ term limit on the chair and vice chair would be beneficial to the group.
“I agree with the committee,” he said. “There may be someone better than (the chair) and if no one else gets a chance we’ll never know.”
“Don’t get me wrong, Bobby (Rodgers) is a great chair, but if someone else were chair they would learn a lot more, and change can be a good thing,” Pourshalimy said.
Some board members consider the possibility of term limits a restriction on student representation.
“To put a term limit (in place), in my humble opinion, is really taking a way a certain amount of voices from students in respect to who they want to serve as their representatives on the board,” Rodgers said.
Jason Gray, vice chair of the board, said personal disagreements and the approach that was taken by the committee to change the bylaws attributed to the voting delay.
There must be 12 members present at a meeting to pass the revisions to the bylaws, and there are currently three voting-member vacancies. With a maximum total board voting membership of 15, without vacancies, all 12 members must be present. The new bylaws looks to change the “two-thirds of all voting members” guideline to “two-thirds of the filled voting board members.”
Rodgers said vacant seats are not common, and that circumstances like these happen and it is unrelated to the proposed bylaw changes.
Pourshalimy said the delay in approving the new bylaws was not entirely unexpected, and sometimes part of the legislative process.
“It (is) part of the democratic process. Sometimes everyone disagrees but that’s how change gets done,” Pourshalimy said.
Laraine Fisher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.