The SGA Senate passed Sen. Colin Crist’s Resolution No. 26 fully supporting SGA President Will Roberts’ efforts to oppose a portion of the FOCUS Act affecting student representation on campus.
The resolution, known as the Anti-FOCUS Act, allows Roberts the power to officially come out against a section of the FOCUS Act concerning the proposed composition of the new Board of Trustees system.
Under the FOCUS Act, each university would have a governing Board of Trustees made up of nine members and one non-voting student appointed by the board.
Currently, the Tennessee Board of Regents has a sitting student member on the regent board known as the Student Regent who is appointed by students through their student body presidents.
The Student Regent has a vote on the board and allows TBR students to have a voice on the state level.
Roberts and the rest of the TBR student body presidents think the students should appoint the student representative on the boards and the representative should have a vote.
In January, the TBR Student Government Association Presidents Council submitted a petition to Governor Haslam’s office requesting the FOCUS Act to allow a student appointed, voting member on the boards.
The Governor’s Office rejected the proposal.
In reaction to the rejections, all student body presidents of the TBR universities are asking their senates to support their opposition to the legislation.
“[SGA] came out against [the FOCUS Act] because we feel as students that we should have a voice,” Roberts said. “Obviously, all the students have a voice to us and they work through us to voice their concerns to the upper administration and even on the state level.”
Roberts said up until this point, students have had voting power on the TBR Higher Education Commission.
“[TBR students have] had [a voting member] since 1974 on the board of regents and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission,” Roberts said. “We figure that it should continue and that it is only fair to the students of these six universities.”
Other TBR student government bodies, such as MTSU’s and Tennessee Tech’s, have passed similar legislation to the Anti-FOCUS Act since January.
In addition to TBR four year institutions, several community colleges have voiced their opposition as well, according to Roberts.