Student representative positions open on state higher education board

Leslie Zhang

Several representative positions are available for student applicants until Friday for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the board’s committees, which influence public policy in Texas.

UT is looking to nominate five students for the non-voting student representative position and two students for each of the five advisory committees, according to Marilyn Russell, deputy advisor to Dean of Students. 

At each university, student government nominations are sent to the president, who then sends it to the governor. The governor will ultimately appoint the student representative. The advisory committee representatives are selected by the committee members. The student representative serves for one year, while the advisory committee representatives serve for two. 

Student Government President Horacio Villarreal said funding has increasingly become a priority as the state makes cuts to its budget. He said he would like to see student representatives speak on behalf of college students across the state to increase funding to higher education institutions.

“I know UT-Austin has been under a tight budget, as well as other public institutions across the state,” Villarreal said. “I think the student representatives to both the committee and the boards need to possess a strong will to increase funds for UT and other schools and translate that to the others on the coordinating board on behalf of the students.”

In addition to focusing on financial resources for the University, Villarreal said he hopes to see transparency from the student representatives surrounding policy making.

“I hope the student representatives are visible on campus so others can voice their opinions and wants, so they can relay those onto the appropriate people,” Villarreal said.

Texas A&M University student Alice Schneider, a current student representative, said her position has afforded her opportunities she would not have had otherwise.

“Being in this position allows me to have dialogues with presidents of community colleges [and] state senators on higher education committees [and] to hear different opinions,” Schneider said.

Schneider said being on the board and shaping public policy on higher education while being a student was a new experience.

“There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes, policy-wise,” Schneider said. “There was a steep learning curve. In the legislative session this spring, I had no idea higher education policy-making was so intensive.”

Since the positions opened in 2008, Russell said seven UT students have served as representatives on advisory committees, but not one has served as the student representative on the board.

“We always want our students in leadership roles, and any representative from this institution would have access to this student body,” Russell said.

The application can be found online at the Dean of Students’ website and must be submitted to the Dean of Students office in the Student Activity Center 3.104 by 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8.