Bellevue College is about to appoint a new student trustee. The Bellevue College student trustee is appointed to the Board of Trustees by the governor and has all the duties and powers of other board members, however they may not vote on personnel decisions or matters pertaining to a collective bargaining agreement. Applications for the position were due on May 3. Requirements for applying for the position included a minimum 3.0 grade point average, 24 college level credits, and availability to attend monthly Board of Trustee meetings. “The student trustee is actively involved in discussions on everything from the budget and the strategic plan to capital projects and student success initiatives. The other board members look to the student trustee for perspectives and insight about the impact of their decisions on students,” said Interim President Jill Wakefield.
Applications for the student trustee position were originally due April 15, but Student Programs extended the deadline to May 3 after not receiving enough applicants for the position. “We don’t have enough applicants for the student trustee position, which let’s face it, looks fabulous on any transcript, it looks fabulous if you’re transferring to a four-year college, it looks fabulous if you’re applying to a job, regardless of what that job is, to be able to say you were the student trustee, which is pretty exciting,” said Student Programs coordinator Abby Lynn.
The board members take input from the student trustee, and look to them for their thoughts about how board decisions will impact students. The student trustee is viewed and treated as an equal member of the board. “The primary role for the student trustee is to keep the board grounded in the realities and experiences of students attending school at BC,” said Economics Program Chair Chace Stiehl.
According to Wakefield, an ideal student trustee would be someone who cares deeply about Bellevue College, wants to ensure that the student voice is considered in board decisions, and wants to participate in the governance of BC. The student trustee will learn about how the Washington community college system is funded, the legislative process, the role of faculty and staff and the college’s work with the community. The student trustee will meet faculty, staff, legislators, business and community leaders and represent the trustees at regional and national meetings.
The student trustee is viewed as a valuable positon within the Board of Trustees. “I believe that board decisions are better with a student serving as one of its members. I believe having a student trustee at the table reminds all of us why we are here. It has been a pleasure to work with Marianne Albay. She has represented Bellevue students so well and kept the board focused on the impact their decisions have on our students. She has made the conversations richer and provided perspectives that have led to good conversations and decisions,” added Wakefield.
Marianne Albay, the previous student trustee had an overall positive experience with the position. Albay held an interim position in Bellevue College student government before she heard about the student trustee position. Albay was interested in being involved on campus and providing insight, and her previous involvement with student government made her a strong applicant. “A lot of it is understanding what is going on in the college and speaking on your opinion as a student. This year was really cool because we hired the new president and I got to observe the process. It was hard to start the position at first because there isn’t a set of directions about what to do, but the more you get used to everything, it feels easier to figure out what you should do,” said Albay.
Albay recommends that the next student trustee ask a lot of questions to gain a better understanding of the responsibilities of their position. “There is no pamphlet that tells you exactly what to do, so in order to get in the hang of things faster, don’t be afraid to ask questions,” Albay added.
Albay had an easy time getting to know board and cabinet members. “Everyone is very approachable and easy to talk to. Since you spend the time at board meetings having discussions, it helped me understand and consider different viewpoints. I try to practice this in making decisions and looking at the different perspectives,” Albay added. She believes the connections she made as the student trustee will help her in the future.