News at 4Cs
Led by 4Cs Students, Change to Student Trustee Law Passes State SenateNovember 23, 2020
The Massachusetts State Senate has passed an amendment that would change eligibility requirements for Student Trustees at community colleges and state universities allowing part-time students to hold the position. The effort to change the decades-old law, and address the significant equity issues it has caused in recent years, was led by Cape Cod Community College’s Student Government Association (SGA) President, Caitlin Marotta, and Vice President, Lindzie White.
Under the current law, only full-time enrolled students in Massachusetts community colleges are eligible to hold the position of Student Trustee, which is a seat on the College’s governing Board of Trustees. This position serves as a key voice on the Board, bringing a student voice to decision making processes related to finances and operation of the institution. The position has remained attached to full-time enrollment status despite changing demographics in the state’s community college system where more than two-thirds of all students are enrolled on a part-time basis.
“We are thrilled how our student leaders recognized a critical need and worked with our State legislators addressing the eligibility of our part-time students to serve as Student Trustee,” said John Cox, President of Cape Cod Community College. “There is a dramatic equity issue that we continue to have across our community colleges by keeping our Student Trustee position tied to being a full-time student in an environment where nearly 70% of our students are part-time. Many of our students are balancing the challenges of life with finances, family obligations, housing, and maintaining full-time jobs. With this transformational effort, led by Caitlin, Lindzie and the statewide Student Advisory Council, community colleges are moving to increase Student Trustee eligibility to include most of our students, across all demographics. ”
Across Massachusetts students of color are enrolled on a part-time basis at a greater percentage than white students. The existing law inherently creates barriers for them to serve as Student Trustee and voice their thoughts in shaping College policy.
“Across the State at our community colleges and state universities, the data is clear: our historically under-represented students are a growing portion of the student body,” said Caitlin Marotta. “We knew from the beginning how important it was that student voices be the loudest in the room, and it is so gratifying to have been heard. This change in law will have a huge, positive impact on generations of students who will come after us across the entire state.”
With the amendment passed in the Senate, it now moves to a Conference Committee, comprised of three members from both the House and the Senate. Since the amendment was adopted as part of the Senate budget, it will be considered as part of those negotiations.
“It has been amazing to have the support of our peers, legislators, and the Student Advisory Council as we’ve pushed for this change,” said Lindzie White. “As representatives of the Student Government here at 4Cs, and students within the Massachusetts community college system, we set out to change this law and bring equity to the Student Trustee position. We’re very excited to have it pass the Senate.”
Earlier this year, Cape Cod Community College’s Student Trustee had to resign, facing issues related to the full-time enrollment requirements. An emergency election was held in October where a new Trustee, Max Kennedy of Marstons Mills, was elected.