Public Universities May Offer Equal Voting Rights to Student Trustees

The Ohio House passed House Bill 377 (HB 377), sponsored by State Representatives Michael Stinziano and Mike Duffey, to allow public university and colleges’ boards of trustees to bestow equal voting rights on student trustees.

“Across Ohio, student trustees are making extremely valuable contributions to the work of university boards. Today’s bipartisan vote in support of HB 377 affirms our belief and confidence in the caliber of students attending our universities and colleges. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support Ohio’s students and pass this bipartisan legislation,” said Rep. Stinziano.

“Whether you are a student, parent or taxpayer, we all benefit when public universities put students first,” said Rep. Duffey. “With voting rights, student trustees will be able to advocate for affordable tuition , an education that results in a job after graduation and the ability to earn a degree after four years, not six, with less debt and more opportunity.”

Currently, each of Ohio’s 14 public universities has two student trustees who have no voting power and are not included in quorum or entitled to attend executive sessions. HB 377 gives boards of trustees the authority to grant the student trustees on their board full voting rights. The bill requires boards of trustees to pass a resolution within 90 days of its effective date either affirming or denying voting rights to its student trustees. If the board of trustees affirms voting rights then student trustees will have the ability to vote on all matters before the board, can attend executive sessions, and can count towards quorum.  If a board decides not to grant voting powers to student trustees, future boards have the ability to pass a subsequent resolution overturning the previous resolution and grant student trustees full voting rights.

Ohio’s student trustees are appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Ohio Senate, from a group of five candidates selected pursuant to a procedure adopted by the university’s student governments and approved by the board of trustees. The term of office for student trustees is two years. Senate Bill 266, companion legislation to HB 377, is currently being considered in the Senate Education Committee.

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