Student Trustees Pave Way for Future Students

 Stephanie Thara



The CSU has a rich history of establishing shared governance practices that have expanded and strengthened the role students play in developing university policy. Many campus procedures that affect CSU students today and have impacted the university’s three million alumni were developed as a result of students’ recommendation on systemwide policy.

Kelsey Brewer and Maggie SmithAmong CSU’s 460,000 outstanding students are two trustees who are putting “lead” in “student leadership.” As student trustees, Kelsey Brewer of CSU Fullerton and Maggie White of CSU Stanislaus represent the voices, concerns and perspectives of each and every CSU student across California.

Brewer and White are two among the 25 members who comprise the CSU Board of Trustees.  The Board, most of whom are appointed by the governor and serve with faculty and student representatives, is the highest policymaking body for the university. Trustees are responsible for the oversight of the CSU and adopt rules, regulations, and policies governing the 23-campus system.

Kelsey Brewer, who was appointed to the CSU Board of Trustees in July 2014 as the non-voting student trustee, impacted CSU policy last year through her strong voice and sound opinions. This year, Brewer will again make change as the voting student trustee and pave the way for future student leaders by serving as the vice chair of the governmental relations committee on the CSU Board of Trustees. This is the first time in CSU history that a student has served as a vice chair on a Board committee.

“The student trustee position was created in 1965 and it wasn’t until now that a student has been put in a vice chair role on the board,” said Brewer. “The CSU has always been a leader in shared governance and including students in the conversation. Now having a student trustee in this role is just another example of how the CSU leads.”

Last year, Brewer started the conversation about the importance and efficacy of a student serving in a leadership role on the Board. She was honored and overwhelmed with gratitude when she learned that the Committee on Committees voted this summer to give students the opportunity to expand their influence on CSU procedures.

“Students play a critical role in advocacy and governmental relations,” Brewer said. “The success of the #StandwithCSU campaign just shows how important it is to have students included in the conversation. We are the ones who carry the message.”

In her new role, Brewer hopes to be the bridge that informs students on all forms of legislation including what bills the CSU supports and why. “I want to pave the way for future students and reinforce importance of having a student voice on both federal and state legislative matters,” she said.

Maggie White, who was appointed to the CSU Board of Trustees this July, is the newest student representative. She will serve for a two-year term, acting as the non-voting student trustee in her first year and assuming the voting student trustee position in her second year.  White—who is not related to Chancellor Timothy P. White—looks forward to working with each of the 23 campuses individually to assess their needs and address issues relating to student success initiatives, faculty retention, and campus sexual assault.

“Serving my peers, the 460,000 students of the CSU system, is the highest honor I can imagine,” said White. “Ensuring that CSU students have the utmost opportunities for personal growth and academic achievements will be my first priority. I believe that everyone deserves a high quality education and a safe environment in which to receive it.”

#StandwithCSU CampaignStudent leaders of the California State Student Association, including Brewer and White, play an integral role in CSU advocacy efforts such as CSU Hill Day, CSU Legislative Advocacy Day and CSU Impact Days that demonstrate the impact of the CSU to state legislators. Students, along with hundreds of other CSU stakeholders, fill the capitol telling stories of how the CSU has positively affected their lives and explain the value of investing in the CSU.

Most recently, student advocacy efforts drove the success of the #StandWithCSU campaign, where lawmakers were encouraged to fully fund the CSU’s proposed budget for 2015-16. With the help of students urging legislators to affirm their support for the CSU, the university received the needed budget to admit 12,000 additional students, expand programs that support student success and completion, hire more tenure-track faculty, modernize facilities and upgrade campus technology.