More women needed on board

Staff Editorial

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The student population at UVM is currently 59.9% female, but barely a quarter of the board’s 25 trustees are women.

As of fall 2018, 55.9% of faculty and staff combined at UVM were female. The class of 2023 is 61.6% female, according to an Aug. 28 Cynic article.

The decisions of the board of trustees affect our daily lives, and therefore, the board’s gender make-up should reflect the body it governs.

The board of trustees determines the cost of tuition, approves which buildings will be renovated and decides where the University’s endowment is invested.

Legislation on issues of particular importance to women, such as women’s healthcare and childcare planning, are more likely to be introduced by women than by men, according to an ongoing Rutgers University study.

On the UVM board, this could translate to issues such as longer paid parental leave, a designated nursing room in every building on campus and more accessibility of free menstrual products.

The board of trustees is made up of 25 members. Three are selected by the governor of Vermont, nine are elected by the Vermont legislature and nine are elected by the board of trustees itself, according to the Board Policy Manual.

Another two members are student trustees. The president of UVM and the governor of Vermont also sit on the board. Each trustee – other than the two student members, president and governor – serves six years.

A typical UVM student probably couldn’t name a member of the University’s board of trustees, much less a female member.

However, given the board’s involvement in nearly every aspect of the University’s functioning, we must remain aware of the board’s gender composition, even when it seems like their actions don’t affect us directly.

Within the next two years, nine trustees will reach the end of their terms. This is our chance to be vocal about the change we wish to see within the board.

Reach out to a Vermont senator or representative. Advocate for role models who you think would make good trustees.

For the board of trustees to reflect the student voice, we must first have a voice.