Lacking vote, student regent works to make board hear voice
The Daily Texan
July 23, 2009
Like the other nine members of the UT System Board of Regents, Karim Meijer was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry. He participates in closed and open meetings to decide how funds for system institutions throughout the state will be spent.
He does not, however, get a vote.
The third student to hold the position in its short history, Meijer is responsible for representing 160,000 students who attend the 15 academic and health universities under the umbrella of the UT System. The 2005 law establishing a student regent does not give him the power to vote or count toward a quorum at meetings, but Meijer said he does not take his work any less seriously.
“I know for years, students really fought to have a representative on the Board of Regents,” Meijer said.
Legislation to create a student regent was being proposed as early as 1985, a battle that continued until the 2006 appointment of Brian Haley.
“By no means do I think we’re under-utilized by the board itself,” Meijer said, “They’ll ask for any input I have on various topics.”
Involvement in the monthly sessions requires going through reams of statistical information on everything from appointing faculty to financial plans proposed by the UT Investment Management Company.
“I’m still feeling my way around that,” he said.
Meijer is no stranger to juggling responsibilities, particularly political ones. Now in his fourth year at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, he played on the 2005 Longhorn football team while attending UT Austin as a business honors student.
“At the same time, the fourth year of med school, in a way, is kind of like your senior year at high school,” Meijer said, adding that he hoped the free time he had over other regents could be used to improve his performance in representing the student body.
“I’m a student regent for the entire UT System. I try to do what’s best for really all our students,” he said.
After having spoken to previous student regents, Meijer said he felt the need for more input from those he represents. “Maybe, in a sense, we’re under-utilized by the students,” he said.
In hopes of raising awareness of his role, Meijer plans to take the month of September to visit the system institutions throughout the state, a move similar to what the first student regent, Haley, did soon after being appointed.
“Go out there and meet the students that I represent and listen to them and take their feedback back to Austin,” he said. “I’m here for the students.”