Nevada Students Seek Representation

CARSON CITY, Nev. - They're the ones directly affected by decisions made by Nevada's Board of Regents who govern over the state's higher education system.

But in the past students have had little input, and now they say it's time a student sits on the Board.

At the Assembly Education Committee meeting Monday, a handful of students from the University of Nevada, Reno testified, asking for representation.

"Currently, there is no real tangible student representation on the Board that is able to vote on public policy that directly affects students in the entire system," Ivon Padilla-Rodriguez, Assistant Director of Policy for the Associated Students of the University of Nevada said.

Assembly Joint Resolution 8 calls for a constitutional amendment allowing for a student representative on the Board of Regents, giving students a permanent say in their futures.

'The budgets, the formula, the curriculum, all those sorts of things are created by the Regents and they directly affect the students," Ben Pelt, Director of the Department of Legislative Affairs, ASUN said.

Supporters of AJR-8 say it's time students have someone focused on them.

"Students have a hard enough time just pursuing higher education," Curtis Blackwell, President of the Associated Students of Western Nevada College said. "We all know if we've been there, how difficult that can be. It's good to have a voice representing their interests."

Nevada is actually in a minority. 40 states currently have student Regents, 32 of those have full voting rights- something students here are asking for.

AJR-8 seems to be off to a strong start in terms of support. A couple committee members, including Assembly Minority Whip Lynn Stewart (R), said they would like to see it passed.

AJR-8 received multiple testimonies of support from both here in the north and Las Vegas. No one showed up in either place to voice their opposition.

"I think we've done a lot to talk with regents, and with the higher education system as to the practicalities and mechanics of how this would work," Assembly Majority Whip David Bobzien (D) said.

Assemblyman Bobzien has been working with the students, but there's still a long road ahead. The resolution is asking for a constitutional amendment which means it needs to pass this year, as well as the next Legislative session, before being brought to the voters.

There's also a price tag attached to the resolution. It's looking for about $8,000 a year in compensation for the student regent's expenses, as well as about $67,000 - the money it costs to get a measure on the ballot.

The Committee voted unanimously to pass the resolution. It's next hurdle is the pass the Assembly before being sent to the Senate.