The General Assembly in Nashville is currently considering legislation to reform the Board of Trustees for the University of Tennessee. Bill HB2115/SB2260, sponsored by Representative Hawk and Senator Norris, would shrink the size of the board by more than half, and completely do away with student and faculty members. This comes after the Focus Act created the non-voting Student Trustee to replace the voting Student Regent just a few years ago.
While the current bill in question does not affect our University nor any student at Tennessee Tech, the adoption of this legislation could set a dangerous precedent in the legislature, and irreversibly damage student interests in this state. The bill plays into a dangerous mentality of “not letting the prisoners run the prison,” and shows a frightening misunderstanding of students and student issues. Student representation is vital to the continuation of the university tradition, and ought to be protected at all costs.
I am honestly unsure of what has caused this misunderstanding, or if it is truly a misunderstanding at all. Perhaps it is an apathy for our kind and our interests. Our generation forgets that, in pure size, we are the largest in the history of the United States. If we suddenly became well organized, our voices could, and would, be heard by those in power. But like our legislators, we are apathetic about our system of government. We must remember that apathy breeds apathy, and our lack of concern will be our undoing.
Our fellow students at the University of Tennessee deserve our support and need our help. By helping them now, we are indirectly helping tens of thousands of Tennesseans at this and at other universities around the state. Now is the time to start contacting your legislators and expressing our support and lobbying for student issues. If we do not act now, our children and grandchildren may not have the opportunity later.
By the time this commentary runs, the House and Senate will both have likely passed this measure, and the bill will be awaiting the signature of the Governor. Contacting Governor Bill Haslam’s office is our last chance to have our voices heard on the issue. Please, give his office a call, or visit in person. It’s only an hour away, and this is our last chance.
Governor Bill Haslam
1st Floor, State Capitol Nashville, TN 37243 (615) 741-2001
SGA Transfer Senator, Junior Economics Major