While most students were finishing up with finals, the Idaho State Board of Education approved a measure that granted the University of Idaho president the right to directly approve changes to the statement of student rights, nullifying the formerly required student vote.
The SBOE agreed to change the voting requirements in hopes that Interim President Don Burnett would expand the jurisdiction clause to include off-campus activities.
Concern has been expressed over this move, and rightly so. It is, at its core, removing the student voice to make important changes to their rights. The student body should be aware of this shift in power as it could be abused when dealing with controversial amendments in the future.
However, without this change to the voting requirements, the jurisdiction clause would be an extended process that in the end, may be impossible to implement.
Many students don’t use the power they have in on-campus decisions. Despite multiple opportunities for students to voice input on major university decisions and policy, few care enough to take part.
During the presidential open forums, students had the opportunity to directly ask candidates questions. However, only a handful of students were present.
Thirty-five percent of the student body would have to vote on the changes to the student statement of rights, and out of that 35 percent, two-thirds would have to vote to approve the changes. In the spring ASUI president and senate election, only 21 percent of students cast their ballots, reflecting the probable difficulty in getting enough students to show up and vote for a change to the jurisdiction clause.
These voting requirements to amend the student statement of rights are unattainable, and needed to be changed to ensure the necessary updates to the student statement of rights.
That being said, the SBOE vote has significantly increased the president’s control over student rights and we hope this decision was made carefully and with future possible consequences in mind.
Hopefully, Burnett will make the right decision and sign off on the jurisdiction clause, finally putting it into effect as soon as possible.