The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill that would add a voting student on governing boards at the UM System, University of Central Missouri, Missouri State and Truman State. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, said he was surprised the bill passed through committee unanimously.
This is the furthest, the soonest that a bill that would add a voting student member to governing boards has made it through the Senate, said John Myers, an Associated Student of the University of Missouri legislative assistant.
"The credit goes to students from ASUM. They really worked the committee, they asked for the vote," Graham said. "This is really a tribute to their hard work and hopefully we'll get an opportunity to get the bill out on the floor."
Similar bills have been brought before the General Assembly for more than 20 years.
"Students are the ones on campus every day. They know where the university is going. They know the pulse of the campus," said Rep. Bryan Pratt, who is sponsoring a similar bill in the House.
In 2005 another bill that would give student curators a vote, lead by Pratt, passed through the Missouri House, but then stalled on the Senate floor. Pratt said he will lobby the House and Senate in hopes of passing this bill through both chambers.
ASUM, a student lobbying group, helped Graham draft this year's version of the bill. Graham has drafted a similar bill three years in a row. But this years offered some significant changes.
"We assisted Sen. Graham with creating a bill that would work best with everyone," ASUM Legislative Assistant Craig Stevenson said.
Graham said one senator was concerned that a student would run into conflicts of interest when voting on hiring and firing of faculty. For that reason, the bill was amended to prohibit student representatives from voting on personnel issues.
Stevenson said ASUM will now continue to visit each senator and advocate this bill, which they consider one of the "top three bills" for MU. Though they face tough opposition.
Last year the Board of Curators also came out in opposition of a voting student curator. If passed the nine-member Board of Curators would continue to have nine representatives, eight regular curators and one student curator, eliminating one regular curator position.
Graham's bill must now be debated on the Senate floor and pass the house floor before becoming law. It would go into effect in August 2007, which means the first voting student curator would be from Columbia.