Some exciting news has come up this week as SGA President Tate Ohmer makes the first step in securing a student seat on the Transylvania Board of Trustees.
As promised by his campaign, Ohmer has been putting together the pieces to accomplish this goal for the entirety of his senior year. Below is his statement on the matter.
Ohmer: The beginning of any new term on campus naturally feels electric. Each of us, including myself, are inspired by those hopes which can be achieved. Having served three and a half years in SGA and graduating this year, I am reflecting on my time here at Transylvania. Our university has changed in many ways for the better, from providing student support to new campus buildings. Nonetheless, a shared issue among many SGA predecessors and students still needs to be solved. We will no longer accept Transylvania University’s absence of a student’s voice and vote upon the board that governs us all.
As President, I picked up and will continue this multi-year effort. Unfortunately, it was expressed that our university will not consider the most modest of proposals for student representation. As good students, we understand the importance of having representation, especially where some of the most impactful decisions are made. Indeed, I am disappointed by our institution’s decision to continue a history of denying what many see as fundamental.
We, as students, are not limited by our institution, and my administration shall not repeat history. Last year, I had the opportunity to work with the Student Rights Coalition and their efforts in Kentucky’s General Assembly to pass the nation’s largest student due process rights bill in the nation. This bill passed through both the House and Senate with bipartisan support and was signed by the Governor.
The Kentucky Student Rights Coalition is dedicated to standing for student voices in higher ed across Kentucky. Introduced last session, the organization had a bill to require additional undergraduate and graduate students to serve on a university’s governing board, raising the total to three legally required voting members on each public university’s governing boards in Kentucky.
It is now put upon the shoulders of students of small liberal arts institutions like Transylvania to ask for one voice. Seeing as there is no more to be done in Old Morrison, we will change gears to Frankfort. Representative William Lawrence, in partnership with the and KHEAA, has worked with our SGA executives to include a provision that requires all post-secondary institutions in Kentucky to have a voting student member on their governing boards by making it a requirement to receive KEES funding from the Commonwealth- applying to both public and private schools.
The new provision will be included in an updated version of the Student Tuition Accountability and Protection Act, which will be re-filed by Representatives William Lawrence and Kim Banta. This is gaining support, and the legislation will be supported by our SGA at Transylvania University.
“For the 2023 Kentucky General Assembly, I enthusiastically stand with students across Kentucky and have filed House Bill 136, the Kentucky Student Tuition Protection and Accountability Act.” said Representative Lawrence, the Representative of District 70, “HB 136 will ensure that the voices of Kentucky’s college students are represented on the governing boards at each public or private four-year college in Kentucky.”
We are still far from seeing this done, but that important first step has been taken. Provided that this bill passes, provided that the Governor signs it, provided that Transylvania cannot function without that KEES funding, we will finally see our administration compelled to follow their commitment to the student body and allow one of us to sit with the decision makers. I hope to fulfill this campaign promise made by myself and those who came before me.