New student liaisons begin term with Board of Trustees

Grace Turner, Managing Editor

Student liaisons attend all BOT meetings and provide a student perspective on issues.
Grace Turner/ OP Archives
Student liaisons attend all BOT meetings and provide a student perspective on issues.

New student liaisons to the Board of Trustees were selected and began their term this month.

Cassie Hock, a senior studying human resource development, and Sean Foe, a junior in cinema studies, will represent the student voice at board meetings for the 2016-2017 academic year.

“It’s important to let the Board of Trustees members know what’s happening in student life academically and extracurricularly, and being a liaison can provide them the perspective they might not have,” Hock said.

The liaisons attend all board meetings and provide a student perspective on issues. They also network with trustees and the administration and report back to students about what happens at the meetings.

The position is especially valuable because audience members can’t speak at a meeting without submitting a request prior to it. The liaisons have the right to speak at any time during the meeting.

Hock and Foe applied and were appointed in part because of their involvement on campus. They have worked with the Student Program Board, the Center for Student Activities and Leadership Development, Orientation and New Student Programs, and Housing. Hock is also involved in Greek Life and has worked with Oakland University Student Congress. These experiences have fostered an understanding of OU’s student body culture.

Glenn McIntosh, vice president for Student Affairs, said that liaisons must have strong academic records because they have to be able to interpret complex documents before each meeting. They also have to be comfortable talking to trustees and administrators in front of an audience at meetings.

Student liaisons are ultimately chosen by the president of the university after a committee headed by McIntosh recommends two candidates. The liaisons don’t have a vote in board decisions because OU’s trustees are appointed by Michigan’s governor.

Hock, Foe and McIntosh believe that the board values student opinions. While Annie Meinberg, student liaison to the board for the 2015-2016 academic year agreed, she pointed out that trustees aren’t always willing to compromise or change their decisions based on the liaisons’ input.

Either way, trustees hear the student voice and explain their decisions, even when board decisions don’t please students, Meinberg said.

She added that it’s especially important for the liaisons to speak up at meetings. They aren’t paid and can’t be dismissed from their positions for stating an opinion. They’ve got nothing to lose.

“We can speak up on any issues that we want,” Meinberg said.

Liaisons need to know what the students want, and Hock and Foe plan to keep in touch with students and value input.

For Foe, this means that students need to stay informed, so they can form educated opinions for the liaisons to take to the board.

“Your experience is going to be what you make of it,” he said.

Student opinions will be especially important as designs for the Oakland Center are worked out in the coming academic year.

The student liaison position was approved at the Dec. 1, 1994 board meeting because students believed they didn’t have a voice, Meinberg said. The first meeting to include liaisons was held on June 8, 1995.

If interested in applying for a student liaison position, visit oakland.edu/bot/student-liaisons/.