New regent should be voice for students, faculty

LaDonna Rogers, you have a choice to make.

As the newest member of the Board of Regents, you can choose to stay on the beaten path and do whatever the other regents do.

It happens all of the time.

Or you can choose to be one of the rebels.

You can create your own path along the way. You can talk to students, faculty and staff about the issues and make your own informed decision.

It’s a tough choice. And we’re glad we’re not in your position.

Being the new kid on the team is always hard. You want the popular kids to accept you.

But not if it means losing your integrity in the process.

Gov. Paul Patton picked you to be our regent for a reason. With your experience on school boards and as an assistant to the Secretary of the Cabinet, he must have believed you could bring something valuable to the table.

Now it’s time to prove it.

In the past, for whatever reason, regents have often decided not to vote for what students or faculty want.

In 2000, they voted to increase student athletics fees by $80, even after students said they didn’t want it. Only Faculty Regent Mary Ellen Miller and Student Regent Cassie Martin dissented.

In 2001 and 2002, Western students have faced back-to-back 10 percent tuition increases.

Both times, they lost.

In 2001, Student Regent Leslie Bedo was the only dissent. In 2002, no one dissented– not even Student Government Association President Jamie Sears, who is now the student regent.

So Rogers, where exactly do you intend to fit into the picture?

President Ransdell has already touted you as a voice for the students.

“It hasn’t been that long ago since she was a leader on this campus. I think that perspective will serve well on this campus,” he said. “My hunch is that she will be a champion for our students.”

We hope he’s right.

If we could set one goal for you, it would be for you to have an open door policy.

Most students wouldn’t know Western’s regents if they tripped over them. Introduce yourself to us, and be accessible. Come visit on a day when you don’t have to be stuck in a board meeting all day. Walk around. Get reacquainted with campus and start to know us. Ask us what we really care about, instead of being the administration’s ear piece.

And once you get to know us, you’ll realize that we don’t like it when huge student decisions get decided over the summer. Every time a tuition hike happens, it gets voted on at the meeting right before classes start. Students don’t even know what’s hit them. Demand it get tabled until we’re back on the Hill.

It’s really your chance to be a leader. If you step forward and follow your gut, who knows who might follow. Sometimes, the 11 members of the board sit back and don’t say a word. Sometimes the three voices representing the students, faculty and staff get drowned out by the others.

Students and faculty are stuck with the results.

It’s time that policy stops.

Rogers, you have a huge job in front of you. You’ve said that you want the high quality of education at Western to continue.

The decisions are in your hand.

Which road are you going to take?

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 11-member board of student editors.