Students get say in school affairs

The University of Miami Board of Trustees voted in favor of adding a student representative to the board on Jan. 18th.
Student Government President JosE Diaz had the idea that a student representative was needed.
Possibilities for change presented by having a student representative include a solution to parking situations, fund management, and generally empowering students, Diaz said.
“I found it strange that the students had no real vote in executive decisions. In fact, students were asked to leave during voting,” Diaz said.
JosE ‘Pepi’ Diaz attended the Magnolia Conference-a meeting of leaders from the top schools in the U.S.-and asked every single student government president in attendance about their Board of Trustees, he told the Hurricane.
Diaz found, without exception, that every other school’s governing body had at least one student representative.
“Even local schools like FIU have a student representative.” he said.
When the floor was opened for comments at the board meeting on Nov. 1, 2001, Diaz raised his hand assertively.
“Everyone’s head turned to look at me,” he said. “It took a lot of guts because nobody there speaks to the point and I did.”
The Board, made up of an assortment of community leaders, educational personnel, and alumni, is the governing body of the university.
The members make decisions as to what changes will be made around the campus, what buildings to tear down and erect, and the adding or changing of university policies.
They meet three times a year to consider proposals for changes and to assess growth.
After Diaz proposed the idea of a student representative, board member Mike Abrams-a UM alum and a former SG president himself-lobbied for Diaz’s proposal and saw that it was carried through to Provost Louis Glaser and, ultimately, President Donna Shalala.
Diaz and Vice President for student affairs Dr. Pat Whitely both named Abrams as a powerful influence and deserving of many thanks.
“I was afraid I would meet some resistance, because the board is very conservative.” Diaz said.
With Abrams’ help, the proposal met with little to no opposition.
“Nearly everyone on the board was excited by the proposal and is anxious to work with our new student representative,” Whitely said.
“We are always happy to be involved in student life. We hope this proves to be a profitable experience for the board and the student body,” Whitely said.
The representative will be chosen in March.
“Only heads of major student organizations are eligible.” Whitely said.
“Candidates have to be recommended to the selection committee by me, then they are allowed to apply for the position,” Whitely said.
“This is a permanent change.” Diaz said, “And in my opinion, we are just catching up to where a university of this caliber should be.”
The new student representative will begin working with the Board of Trustees in the fall of 2002.
Students qualifying as leaders of major student organizations, who would like to be recommended for the position, can contact Dr. Pat Whitely at 305-284-5582.

February 5, 2002


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.