For approximately two years, the Honors College Student Advisory Board (SAB) has been trying to secure a voting seat within the Rutgers University Student Assembly, said Brandon Goldstein, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore and vice president of the SAB.
With the recent election and subsequent win of the Rutgers People’s Party, this issue has been brought up once again.
“We won as the (Rutgers) People’s Party with the platform of bringing our peers to the table … As one body, we look to leverage the unique experiences of our members to highlight the shortcomings of our institution that we can change for the better,” said newly elected Assembly President Gavin Mayes, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.
The Rutgers People’s Party supports the motion to establish an Honors College voting seat and believes this representation is necessary, he said.
“The Honors College has 2,000 members and is eager to have representation within the Assembly to help make change,” Mayes said. “Who are we to deny such a desire by disregarding their request for representation?”
The SAB began working toward this by discussing logistics with former Assembly President Jhanvi Virani, a Class of 2020 graduate, in the fall of 2019, Goldstein said. They then continued their efforts by approaching former Assembly President Nicholas LaBelle, a Rutgers Business School senior, who ultimately decided it would be best to institute the Honors College voting seat in the revised Standing Rules of the Assembly.
Before the approval of the Standing Rules, Goldstein said the voting seat was removed from the document, which surprised the SAB. He said the SAB was pleased to see that the Rutgers People’s Party voiced their support for an Honors College voting seat in the Assembly.
Goldstein said that having this voting seat is important since the Honors College is a diverse group of students with a multitude of different concerns not only related to the Honors College, but also to co-curricular happenings and requirements within the University as a whole.
“This confluence of concerns ensures that the Honors College student body has a distinct viewpoint on the development of Rutgers, both as a university and as a community,” he said.
Goldstein said some community members view the Honors College and its members negatively, which the SAB hopes to end through working with the Assembly.
“It is essential that it is made clear that Honors College students are Rutgers University students first and Honors College students second … (a voting seat) will aid in the efforts of the SAB to convey these messages and will serve as an enduring symbol that the Honors College and its students are an integral and welcome component of the Rutgers University community,” he said.
If established, Goldstein expects this seat to be similar to other seats currently in the Assembly. It would be subject to the same regulations and the representative from the Honors College would be expected to engage in all Assembly proceedings.
“(The) representative would collaborate with other representatives in (the Assembly) to ensure the production of inclusive, equitable legislation that advances the well-being of all Rutgers students,” he said. “The SAB would work closely with the Honors College student who occupies the … voting seat.”
The Honors College representative would be in constant communication with the president and vice president of the SAB and would be given regular briefings by them on Honors College student concerns, Goldstein said.
As the Rutgers People’s Party supported this motion, they will move forward with the establishment of the seat, Mayes said. The implementation of this seat will require close cooperation between the SAB and members of the Assembly.
“The best path forward would be to have a single special interest representative from the Honors College in the Assembly to be a direct line between the Assembly, the (SAB) and the thousands of constituents who are part of the Honors College,” he said.
Mayes said the Honors College voting seat will entail the same responsibilities and duties as any other seat in order to properly represent Honors College students.
“There is a strong voice for representation coming from the Honors College and it should be our desire as an Assembly to hear it,” he said.