Daily Egyptian

Column: Voice of the student trustee

By Sam Beard

Hey.

My name is Sam Beard and I am the student trustee for SIU Carbondale. I was elected to this position by my fellow students in May of this year.

As the student trustee, I am the formalized voice for the Carbondale campus and its students on the Board of Trustees — the administrative body in charge of the university.

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The BoT is the group that can build new buildings, close or create departments and colleges, raise tuition, fees and housing costs for students and appoint chancellors, administrators and even the president of the SIU system. Needless to say, it is imperative to have somebody on the board that will not only fight for the students, but will remain completely accessible throughout the process.

As the student trustee, I figured it appropriate to collaborate with the student newspaper to inform my fellow peers on how specific administrative and board matters will affect them, how they can shape campus life and policy and help facilitate that much-needed dialogue between those controlling university matters and those impacted by their decisions.

Part of my platform was to regularly meet with RSOs, faculty, staff and students to learn about what they would like to see done at SIU and how we can make that happen. Please, consider this an invitation to write me, call me, talk to me, pester me and hold me accountable for things happening on campus.

This university belongs to the students.

I am a firm believer in horizontal power structures (as opposed to top-down, pyramid-shaped ones). And in order to move toward a state of shared governance, SIU must become as radically democratic as possible. All stakeholders, including community members, must have a say in the direction of the university. I am here to help facilitate that.

However, while I am the formalized voice of the student of this campus, my ideas on how to make a more ideal university (and world, for that matter) are no more important than yours. Speak out, break rank, form groups and make change. The best to get what you want on campus is to make it happen yourself, autonomously.

That being said, there is a rigid hierarchy of decision making at SIU. Use me as a tool to share your ideas with those in positions of power.

The newly-appointed Chancellor Carlo Montemagno made comments endorsing shared governance of this university. I think this provides a good opportunity to assert our individual and collective power when it comes to determining and changing campus policy.

Historically, in this country, there is an obvious pattern of excluding people from decision-making because of their skin color, gender, religion, nationality, income, sexual preferences and more. It is our duty to interrupt that pattern.

With the rising tide of far-right white supremacist movements it has become clearer than ever that my fellow board members and the administration at large must heed to the words of disenfranchised students more than anyone else. When they speak, we must listen and take action on their behalf.  

I would like to extend an invitation to all of my fellow community members, students and everyone else on campus to share their ideas and grievances with me. In creating the future that we deserve, we need help from everyone along the way. Please reach out to me. I will make your voice heard.  

Student Trustee Sam Beard can be reached at [email protected], in his office located in the Registered Student Organization Suite on the third floor of the Student Center or by phone at (618) 453-8418. Regular office hours will be posted in next week’s column.

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