It seemed that everyone needed to say something about Gov. Matt Blunt’s decision on Wednesday to veto a bill that would have made the student representative to the UM Board of Curators a voting member on the board.
Right now, the board has nine members — one for each Missouri congressional district — and the student curator is a tenth, non-voting member. After the 2010 census, if Missouri lost a congressional district, this bill would have instated the student curator as the ninth voting member. But that’s no longer the case. Here are the widespread responses after Blunt announced his plans to veto the bill:
*First, Blunt himself: “The current make-up of the University of Missouri’s governing board carefully balances numerous factors and interests,” Gov. Blunt said. “Any fundamental change to the board’s construction should be crafted to solve problems, not create them. This legislation would have created ‘stakeholder’ representatives which is a significant problem because today the nine curators represent the university as a whole rather than a specific university interest, cause or stakeholder group. The legislation would have also been inconsistent with the statutory method used to select these curators and the student curator would only serve a short time compared with the other board members.”
*The bill’s sponsor, Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, had this to say: “Because of his action, he will forever be remembered as the governor that believes student opinion is worthless, and that the student curator is too stupid to have a meaningful vote.”
*Tony Luetkemeyer, the current student curator, had this to say in an interview Wednesday afternoon: “This was an important bill the governor needed to sign to show his support for education and show his support for students,” Luetkemeyer said. “I wish the governor had seen it that way.”
*Craig Stevenson is the board chairman of the Associated Students of the University of Missouri. This student lobbying group made the curator bill one of its top legislative priorities this session. He said this in an ASUM news release: “The students of the University of Missouri are deeply troubled by this veto. ASUM intends to overcome Governor Blunt’s veto and encourages those who are concerned about higher education issues to become involved by contacting their local representatives and senators. With the help of our friends in the legislature, students will rally to take on this new challenge in the same bi-partisan manner in which the bill was forged.”
*ASUM legislative director Ally Walker added this: “As a student, it was with disbelief and incomprehension that I learned of Governor Blunt’s veto of SB873. ASUM and students across the state feel it is important that our opinion be indelibly recorded with a vote on our governing board. While Governor Blunt may disagree with this philosophy, students must continue to fight for what they believe to be right, and will continue to do so in the future.”
*Young Democrats of Missouri President Rick Puig: “I am appalled, insulted and, unfortunately, unsurprised.” said Rick Puig, President of the Young Democrats of Missouri. “Matt Blunt has a track record of brushing aside Missourians, whether they are individuals in need of healthcare of voiceless students at our State’s great universities. With that being said, a veto of legislation with such overwhelming support is bold even for the Governor.”
*Missouri Ninth Congressional District Candidate Ken Jacob, a democrat: “This veto is a product of curators being chosen based on political contributions, not on the ability to govern the University of Missouri. Missouri students should have a voice in the governance of their University.”
Also, Blunt’s office released prepared statements from many of the curators, who in May voted to oppose this legislation. Here are some of their responses:
*Former Curator Thomas Atkins: “As a past member of the Board of Curators I enjoyed working with university students to ensure that their needs were addressed by the board. I know that Governor Blunt made the correct decision to veto this flawed legislation which would create a built-in-bias on the Board. This bill is unfair to the student member. Having a shorter term than other curators puts the student under pressure that could negatively impact his or her valuable contribution to the board and the overall decision making process.”
*Curator Warren Erdman: “I have two particular problems with this legislation. First, I believe this legislation to be very unhealthy for the university to establish the precedent of creating stakeholder representatives with voting authority on the Board of Curators. A central strength of the current governing structure comes from the fact that none of the nine curators represent any one, specific group of university stakeholders. This legislation would change that, creating a stakeholder voting representative of one university stakeholder group. I believe that is a bad precedent. Second, because the purpose of having such a voting student curator, as proposed in the legislation, is to have an actual student who is enrolled as a student in the university system during their term as a curator, it would be very difficult to always match such a student curator’s term on the Board of Curators, with that student’s status as an enrolled student, making this legislation awkward and unworkable. I want to thank Governor Blunt for his continued support for higher education and for vetoing this legislation that would have created a stakeholder voting member of the Board of Curators.”
*Board Vice Chairman Bo Fraser: “I commend Governor Blunt for his willingness to veto Senate Bill 873 which is the legislation that creates a voting position on the board of curators of the University of Missouri for a student, should Missouri lose a congressional seat in 2010. There are a number of concerns with Senate Bill 873 that need to be addressed. This veto will provide ample time to study all alternatives and determine the best course for the University of Missouri if we lose the congressional seat in 2010.”
*Curator Judith Haggard: “Governor Blunt has been a champion for education. I am pleased that he vetoed this legislation that would have created a new stakeholder voting position on the Board of Curators.”
*Curator Doug Russell: “The University Board of Curators is designed to be made up of lay members appointed by the governor. This legislation would have created a special class by designating one of those members from one of the University’s constituencies, resulting in two different classes of curators and creating a biased constituent seat. Governor Blunt made the correct decision by vetoing this legislation.”
*Board Chairwoman Cheryl Walker: “I’d like to personally thank and applaud Governor Blunt for his actions today. Governor Blunt has consistently demonstrated his support for Higher Education in Missouri and for the University of Missouri in particular. How redistricting should impact the University of Missouri should not be decided in advance of exploring, developing and studying all options that may be available in the event our state loses a Congressional seat in 2010. Governor Blunt’s actions demonstrate his continued understanding and appreciation of the role of the University of Missouri in our great State and that alterations to the make up of the voting membership of the Board should not be decided in a vacuum.”
*Curator Don Walsworth: “I have had the pleasure of working with three different student curators and I believe the basic philosophy for the student curator on the Board is to give input to the Board regarding student affairs and their concerns. The governance of the University should remain in the hands of lay board which has no specific agenda for any one constituency. I commend Governor Blunt for his careful and thoughtful veto of this legislation ensuring the integrity of the Board.”
*Curator David Wassinger: “Although the current student representative’s input has been invaluable to the Board, this legislation is premature in that a congressional district has not yet been eliminated, and other alternatives have not been adequately explored if Missouri loses a congressional district.”
For my full story on the big veto, check here.
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