Student Regent Brian J. Haley

Daily Texan, November 2, 2006

As Brian Haley enters the last leg of his term as the first UT System student regent, his potential replacements had their final opportunity to submit an application to student governments before they go to the System chancellor's office Wednesday.

UT System Chancellor Mark Yudof will select at least two applicants to recommend to the governor from a pool submitted by student governments at all UT student institutions, except the University. The next student regent cannot come from the same institution as the previous student regent.

Yudof will submit his student regent recommendations along with the applications to the governor by Dec. 1. The governor can either select from the pool of applicants recommended by Yudof or pick any other UT System student not attending the University. Former UT Student Government President Omar Ochoa, who applied for student regent in 2005, said there was a lot of momentum and excitement over the new position and the application process at all the System campuses last year. Students had a lot of incentive to make sure the right person was selected the first time around and set a good precedent, he said.

While the Texas Legislature defines the student regent as a non-voting member of the board, students hope privileges will come with time.

For School of Law student Haley, who said he doesn't want to be seen as the "light version" of the Board of Regents, setting a precedent means blurring the line distinguishing a student regent from a regent. He said he would like to see the student regent meet the same criteria set forth for any of the other board members.

"That's the only way that the student regent will ever get a vote," he said.

Since the beginning of his term, Haley said he began shaping his position into a mold of the other regents.

Just as the regents are supposed to represent the state of Texas and the System, not a constituency, Haley said he serves not merely as a representative for student voices, but as a trustee for the greater interests of the state.

"I don't think it's a good idea for a student to come in only with the perspective that they're there to simply do what students want," he said. "A lot of the issues that come before the board may or may not affect students."

It's important that student regents come in with a much broader perspective, he said.

"I will certainly do my best to say, 'This is what I've heard from students, faculty and staff, from the campuses and the System,'" Haley said. "But at the end of the day, my final recommendation will be what I think is best for the people of Texas."

Ochoa said Haley has advocated for student input in issues such as increasing graduation rates. But there is a fear that a student regent could become so absorbed in the professional and elite Board of Regents that they lose touch with student perspective, Ochoa said.

"What it comes down to is: Are the student governments at each UT campus putting up good people for the chancellor to review?" Ochoa said. "Is the chancellor selecting good people to move on to the governor? And is the governor taking the advice of the students and the chancellor?"