Texas state representative files bill to allow UT System student regent voting power

Sheryl Lawrence

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the April 2 issue of The Daily Texan.

Texas State Representative Jasmine Crockett, D-Dallas,  filed a bill at the beginning of March that would amend the Texas Constitution to provide student regents on the boards of public universities with voting power.

In 2005, the 79th Texas Legislature passed a bill giving the Texas governor the power to appoint a nonvoting student regent to the board of regents of any public university or university system in the state. Since then, student regents have been able to serve on boards in one-year terms. 

The responsibilities of a UT System student regent include attending the board meetings, reading meeting agendas and reviewing the regents’ rules, according to the website.

Current student regent Patrick Ojeaga, a medical student at UT-Rio Grande Valley, said in an email that he felt the UT System Board of Regents values his input on anything presented to the board during meetings.

“I have been able to provide my input in any matter that I felt my perspective as a student or Texan would be valuable,” Ojeaga said. “The board members really welcome and respect the commentary that the student regent provides.”

Ojeaga said in his experience, his vote would not have changed the outcome of any agenda item. 

At every UT System institution, student government organizations collect applications for the position in November to send to the institution president, according to the UT System website. Each institution sends applications to the UT System, which then makes recommendations to the governor, and the governor appoints the regent by June 1.

Per state law, the UT System cannot oppose or support any proposed legislation, Karen Adler, director of media relations and communications for the UT system, said in an email.

Raghav Aggarwal, a College of Liberal Arts representative-elect, interns for Crockett and said he proposed the idea for the bill. Aggarwal said he plans to start a petition within Student Government at the start of his representative term to garner support for the bill. Crockett did not respond to a request for comment.

“The nonvoting student regent position is more or less a dog bone for student involvement in the UT administration’s affairs,” said Aggarwal, an international relations and global studies and economics freshman. “Adding that (vote) gives us more of that oversight over our institution that’s more in line with our interests, versus the interests of the other members of the Board of Regents who … aren’t exactly in touch with the current student body.”