New Charter Committee Bereft of Legitimacy
By Andrew Bannon-Guasp
Trinity’s new Charter Committee, which has not yet convened, has already lost a lot of legitimacy in the eyes of some students. It is to be a twelve member committee, with five faculty members, five trustees and wait for it…two students. These two will be voting and a third will be non-voting but will have speaking rights.
For readers who did not read the Trustees’ message of the October 24th, 2011, the Charter Committee is charged to “consider and recommend longer-term opportunities and undertakings that will enable a fulfilling student life for all Trinity students and that will further strengthen community values at the College.” These priorities require a deep understanding of student issues that only two students cannot possible convey. I do not question the appointed students’ ability to participate effectively, but the range of experiences represented by the student body is too broad for any two students to represent adequately.
There’s no way around it: this is disrespectful. How dare the College only allocate 1/6 of the committee’s voting seats to students? According to Trinity’s website there are 2,144 full-time undergraduates and 104 graduate students for a total of 2,248 students, not including the part-time IDP students. The same page says that there is a 10:1 student-faculty ratio, which would indicate 224.8 (225) faculty members. There are thirty-six trustees. So let’s do some math:
The three groups represent 2,509 people. 89.6% of that number is represented by students; 9% faculty; 1.4% trustees. However, students make up only 16.667% of the committee (excluding the non-voting member); faculty and trustees both represent 41.667%.
If we were to keep the same 12 member committee but adopt a proportional method of distribution, the students would get over 10 of the 12 seats; the faculty a little bit more than one seat and the trustees would get a little under one-fifth of a seat.
I am not trying to say that having five trustees and five faculty members is a bad idea; on the contrary, I think it’s great that faculty and board members are getting together to work through the College’s problems. However, students should have an equal say on the committee. To only give students 16.667% of the committee seats is outrageous when we make up almost 90% of the College community. Students should have a robust opportunity to participate in College governance. This allocation of seats on this committee is fundamentally unfair.
My solution: the College should invite three more students to join the committee with full voting rights.