No matter how great a board of trustees is, there is no better way to get a feel of a campus need than having it assessed from a student’s perspective.
And that’s why Springfield College utilizes the services of a Student Trustee and Student Trustee-elect. The search for the next Student Trustee-elect is now underway.
Each year, one Student-Trustee is chosen through a process that enables a variety of voices to be heard. Students can apply during the spring of their sophomore year, and the student chosen serves as the Student Trustee-elect their junior year, before becoming the Student Trustee their senior year.
“We’re looking for someone who can accurately convey the pulse on campus,” said Jonathan Reidy, the current Student Trustee. “They have to represent all the students, so it’s not necessarily someone who’s just going to tell the board what their personal opinion is.”
The Student Trustee is a voting member of the Board of Trustees, the primary voting body of the school. The Board is responsible for major decisions and changes on campus, and comprises an integral part of the progress and advancement of the college. In terms of voting, the Student Trustee-elect shadows the Student Trustee, but does not cast a vote until October of their senior year.
“[The Student Trustee-elect does not] really have any duties, but they shadow the Student Trustee, so it’s an opportunity for them to get acclimated to the role so they’re not just thrown into it,” said Vice President and General Counsel Christopher Neronha. He serves as a nonvoting member of the Board of Trustees.
Springfield is still ahead of the game in a sense when it comes to having a Student Trustee position. According to the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, just 21 percent of independent institutions have at least one student member of the Board of Trustees.
Ordinarily, there are about 10 to 15 students that apply for the position, but according to Reidy, Neronha and Nora Santourian (the Executive Secretary of the Board of Trustees), they are looking for that number to increase.
“We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to go through the process,” Reidy said. “I think it’s important that we have people who think differently to kind of bring different pieces to the position.”
Historically, there has not been the largest spread of academic backgrounds when it comes to the Student Trustee. Five of the last ten Student Trustees were Athletic Training majors, including Reidy. However, the current Student Trustee-elect, Troy Ward, is a Business Management and Finance major.
Each Student Trustee generally has a “platform” or cause around campus that they are interested on improving. Reidy, a former Resident Assistant, has put extensive time looking into Residence Life as Student Trustee. The Residence Life survey emailed to students last year was put together largely due to Reidy’s efforts.
Though not always the most recognized position by students, the Student Trustee position is an essential part of what makes Springfield College tick. Applications are available and have been emailed to current sophomores. They are due Fri. March 11.