Board of Trustees must listen to CUNY presidents' testimony

During the CUNY Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 23, Chairperson William Thompson proposed to have one or two presidents from every CUNY campus present a brief president’s report at each meeting, instead of the current protocol of having every president attend every meeting regardless of the circumstances. While Thompson believes this is beneficial to the presidents because they are occupied with campus demands, each president should be present at all meetings to express their grievances and represent the students of their campus.

All presidents of CUNY campuses are present at board meetings. However, presidents have little impetus to speak. This is frustrating, as presidents cannot offer testimonies or express issues about their campuses. It is unfair to students because the appointed officials represent the campuses they attend. Since presidents are not allowed to speak, their students’ voices are also silenced.

Having two presidents at board meetings will not solve this issue. Two representatives do not accurately represent the entire public university system. Instead, Thompson should allow each president of a CUNY campus to speak at these meetings.

This raises the issue of time. The Oct. 23 meeting was close to 2 1/2 hours long. Thompson pointed out that each president is engrossed in managing their university and has a commitment to their jobs. He stated that if the presidents have no specific reason to be at meetings, then they should not have to be there. The CUNY Board of Trustees is infringing on the presidents’ time.  The presidents could be handling their university issues instead of being at the committee meetings with no purpose. Thompson’s concern about time is unreasonable. While meetings are lengthy, giving each president a chance to briefly speak is worthwhile because university issues are addressed. These presidents are elected officials and students should hold them to these standards.

Thompson mentions that presidents have commitments outside of committee meetings. Yet the Undergraduate Student Government at Baruch College has weekly senate meetings on Tuesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. It is not unusual for these meetings to finish late. These students also have commitments outside of USG, but they are still present at meetings because they are elected into office and represent the Baruch College student population. If college students can make time to address campus issues, then so can the CUNY Board of Trustees.

By allowing each president to share a brief update during meetings, the CUNY Board of Trustees would be displaying their commitment to CUNY students.