New bill ensures students voices will be heard

Michelle Reuter

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A new assembly bill would allow student and ex-officio members on the CSU Board of Trustees to have a person vote on their behalf when they cannot attend meetings.

Two students are appointed on the board by the current governor with one as a voting trustee, while the other is non-voting.

AB46, a bill proposed by Assemblyman Dr. Richard Pan, would change section 66602 in the Education Code to allow the non-voting student trustee to cast a vote if the voting trustee cannot attend a meeting.

Ian Ruddell, the current voting student trustee, said it has happened in the past that a voting student member had been forced to miss a meeting due to unforeseen circumstances.

“I think that the student piece is essential,” Ruddell said.  “I absolutely agree with letting the non-voting student member vote in the absence of the voting trustee. I think it will have a positive effect.”

The bill was presented to the Committee On Higher Education in Sacramento on March 19 by Pan, a former UC Davis educator and pediatrician. Pan has served as a 6th District assemblyman since 2010.

CSU Sacramento student Ryan Allain testified on behalf of the bill before the committee. He voiced concerns about student representation at board meetings and the rising costs of education.

“This would give the students of the CSU much more of a voice in the meetings,” Allain said.

 Allain said he hoped to hold elected officials more accountable for what happens at board of trustee meetings by allowing them to send a representative to vote when they cannot be there.

The bill would also apply to the five ex-officio members representing state offices including Brown, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, the Speaker of the Assembly, Superintendent of Public Instruction and the CSU Chancellor.

“The people of California decided that these offices should have a voice on the board of trustees of public universities,” Pan said. “In fact, these offices sit on many other boards and commissions and they exercise their voice there by having appointed representatives when they cannot attend.”

In the past 10 years the five ex-officio members have only attended about 25 percent of the board of trustees meetings, said Brian O’Hara, a staff member for Pan.

O’Hara also said the board meetings, held in Long Beach, can occur at the same time the legislature is meeting in Sacramento and makes it impossible for some members to attend.

AB46 has been approved by the Committee On Higher Education by a 9–3 vote. It will now go on to the state assembly and then to the state Senate. If both approve the bill, it would be presented to Brown to sign into law or veto.