COLUMN: Give us a seat at the board’s table

Noah Pearson Columnist

Noah Pearson

Columnist

The function and the decisions of the board of trustees are not made clear to the student body. 

The board of trustees is Elmhurst College’s major donor board. They have been responsible for projects such as major building renovations to random hikes in our tuition. Twice a year, they take time out of busy schedules and leave their businesses behind to come to E.C. to gauge the needs of the campus and make critical decisions. One thing we cannot fault them for is not taking the time to do a job the board of trustees are not even paid to do. 

However, what happens at these meetings? Why are they only here twice a year? Is the schedule public? Who attends these meetings? Are minutes collected? If so, are they distributed to students?

Some of these questions have answers but the fact that they aren’t obvious is a part of the problem. 

At the most recent board of trustees meeting in October, they voted to increase student tuition by 2 percent next year. This is an issue that affects all students, yet this information is not readily available to all students. 

It appears as though the only students allowed to attend these meetings are members of the Student Government Association. It is great to see student representation at board of trustee meetings, but what are the expectations and jobs of these students? Are they even realistic?

Based on the decisions made at the last meeting, no. For example, the faculty have representatives who are responsible for writing up minutes and then delivering those minutes to the entire faculty.

It may seem as though we can call on our representatives to do the same, but the amount of work is disproportionate to the reward when compared to the work and rewards of our faculty counterparts. 

At the board of trustees meeting. The faculty received a 3 percent increase in their salaries. While this is reason for faculty to celebrate, it is proof that faculty have incentivised interest in being at these meetings. Not only are they clearly invited, they are already paid by this institution and receive benefits from being at these meetings. Students have limited representation, are not paid for being there and based on the fact that our tuition was raised, are being blinded and taken advantage of. 

How can students vouch for themselves at a meeting that isn’t even open to them? The board of trustees has created an environment that can clearly act against the interests of students but prevent students from having a say. 

There are two solutions to this issue.

The first is that at least a portion of all board of trustee meetings should be made public. There should be a summary of the weeks meetings to disclose major decisions such as the increase in salary or the increase in tuition, and the entire student body, including the press, have the right to make an appearance. 

The second is that immediately following the meetings, detailed minutes, written up by someone either on the board or a faculty member, should be sent to the entire student body as well. Promptly after the meetings were over the faculty received minutes filled with notes from every committee, every subcommittee, and from every single day of the conference. Students should  receive the same minutes. 

There are facilities that need to be kept up, faculty need to be paid. E.C. is a private institution and uses private funds to do so. If facilities are going to improve, the money has to come from somewhere. However, it is unfair to demand more money from a population of people without giving them a chance to fight against it, and without even notifying them. 

To ask for more might be unreasonable, but to ask for less would be unethical. If the intention of the board was to act in the interest of students, this is how it starts.