Photo credit: Star file photo

Students have the opportunity to influence statewide education by applying to be a representative on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Texas Senate Bill 1007—passed in 2007 and implemented in 2008—allows Texas students from a public university to apply to become a representative on the Texas Higher Education Board. The student representative will serve a one-year, non-voting term and gets appointed June 2020.

Only one Texas student at a public higher education institution is selected to be a representative. Currently, a student from Texas Tech University is serving until the end of their term in May 2020. There has not yet been a Texas State student appointed to serve on the Higher Education Coordinating Board.

To apply, students must have at least a 2.5 GPA as an undergraduate or graduate student and maintain good academic standing. Students can fill out the online applications found on the TXState VPSA page, and then print and submit them to the Division of Student Affairs, which work in conjunction with Student Government.

By Jan. 1, Student Government members will select no less than five applicants to give to University President Denise Trauth. Trauth will select two nominees and then send the nominations to the governor by Feb 1. Gov. Greg Abbott will be able to select who he wants to appoint for the position by June 1.

Vice President for Student Affairs Joanne Smith said the university has been sending out the application and information for a student representative on the board for years. The main purpose of the Student Affairs Office is to ensure applications are filled out correctly. Disciplinary records and transcripts are checked to guarantee candidates meet the required academic standards.

“We are basically the screeners of the application and make sure everything is correct before it gets sent up,” Smith said, “We make sure everything is complete and (students) have all the right information asked for.”

Chief Operating Officer of the Commissioners Office in the Texas Higher State Education Coordinating Board Linda Battles said the goal of the bill is to allow more student perspectives on the educating board.

“Institutional student perspectives are very important to the work we do,” Battles said. “Obviously, it is one of the reasons why we exist: to serve the students. We want to make sure student perspectives and concerns are represented in these discussions and deliberations our boards take.”

A day before the first committee meeting on June 17, the newly appointed student representative will go through an orientation for the Higher Education Coordinating Board before participating in their first meeting. Toward the end of July, the representative will then participate in their first-floor board meeting on July 23.

According to Battles, the responsibilities of a student representative on the Board are to review agenda materials and attend at least three of the four committee meetings. The student will attend three of the four board meetings as well, both of which are held quarterly in Austin.

The student representative serves on the board and three committees total as “ex officio members,” meaning they do not vote, but can participate in discussions and deliberations. Additionally, the student representative may be contacted from constitutes in which they can either respond directly or have the agency respond on their behalf.

Battles said the student representative must have an interest in serving not only their institution but the whole of the state.

“We try to ensure members of the board have a statewide perspective, and they’re not representing a particular point of view from one institution,” Battles said “The student board member comes from all walks of life, not just students enrolled at a particular institution.”

Trevor Newman, candidate for the Hays Democrat Chair, encourages students to get involved in government and politics. By doing so, students are able to influence government officials to pass legislation benefiting students’ needs.

“The people that know students the best are other students, and students know what each other needs and what they want to learn more about,” Newman said. “We know what things are being used on campus or our public education more than other things. I think that’s where we get interesting insight because we’ve been through public education. We need more young voices within our democracy and if young voices aren’t willing to jump in the game, then we’re going to have older people making decisions for us.”

Students who would like a chance to be selected for representative on the board must complete the higher education board application and Governor’s appointment application as well as send their resume and transcript to the Vice President for Student Affairs’ Office in the J.C Kellam Building, Room 980 by Dec. 2.

The appointment from Abbott will be announced June 1, 2020. The position is in effect until May 31, 2021.

For more information, students can call the VPSA office at (512)-245-2152.

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