VOLUME 33, NUMBER 20 THURSDAY, March 7, 2002

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George Pape, a junior history and political science major at UB, is the new student member of the SUNY Board of Trustees

How did you come to be the student member of the SUNY Board of Trustees?
Upon the resignation of Christopher Holland, the former trustee and president of the SUNY Student Assembly, I left my position as vice president of the Student Assembly and assumed the role of trustee/president on Feb. 1. The board of trustees is composed of 18 members, 17 of whom are direct gubernatorial appointments. The student trustee position, the only non-gubernatorial position, is particularly valuable for this reason. As student trustee, I am the 18th ex-officio voting member by virtue of my position as the president of the SUNY Assembly.

What does it mean to be the student member of the board? Do you have the same status as the other trustees? How long is your term?
As president of the SUNY Student Assembly and as a student, it is my responsibility to represent more than 388,000 students across 64 diverse SUNY campuses—an opportunity and responsibility that I value greatly. The student trustee represents these students not only to the board of trustees, but also to all other statewide agencies, including SUNY system administration and the New York State Legislature. I have the same status as the rest of the board in that I am a voting member and have the same rights and privileges as all other trustees. Since I am a trustee by virtue of my position, my term is concomitant with my term as SUNY Student Assembly president, on which there is a limit of two years.

Does the student member have any specific duties or sit on any specific committees?
The student trustee's duties are the same as those of a gubernatorial appointee. The only committee I am required to sit on is the executive committee. Other than that, I am able to choose the committees I wish to sit on based on what I feel is most important during my time with the board. This gives the student trustee the freedom to address whichever issues he or she feels are urgent, as well as participate in any board discussions he or she chooses.

What do you hope to accomplish as the student member?
As I mentioned, it is up to the student trustee to represent the interests of more than 388,000 students from 64 diverse campuses. These campuses range in size and type from community colleges, to agricultural and technical institutes, to university centers, to graduate and professional schools. It is my hope to represent these student interests appropriately and effectively to the board of trustees. Also, I hope to help the assembly lobby effectively on the governor's 2002-03 executive budget, as well as various pieces of legislation concerning higher education. We also will continue to address such issues as TAP and EOP cutbacks, as well as oppose tuition increases.

You're sitting on a board with some pretty heavy hitters in New York State. How does it feel?
Without a doubt, the board of trustees' composition is unique and well-devised to represent all of SUNY's interests, and I certainly do not take for granted the influence it has over all SUNY students. I eagerly look forward to working with these well-established and respected members in the New York State community on our common goal—to continue to build SUNY as a premiere and well-venerated system of higher education, not only within New York State, but nationwide.

You also serve as president of the SUNY Student Assembly. What does that entail?
The primary and most important duty of the president is that of trustee. By allowing the president of the assembly to focus on his/her duties as trustee, the assembly is able assure the best possible student representation on the board. The internal and everyday workings of the student assembly are mostly left in the hands of the vice president and other elected board members, with the president being as involved as he/she chooses or feels is appropriate. Assembly matters, such as networking between schools, providing assistance to student governments and individual committee meetings, usually are left to the other members of the assembly, all of whom are leaders from their respective schools. While the president is still involved in all major decisions within the assembly, often chairs assembly meetings and ultimately still runs the organization, it is in everyone's best interests to delegate any micro-management issues so as to stay focused on the trustee position and its responsibilities.

What are your plans after graduation?
Law school. Yes, I know I know—an all-too-common choice for today's undergraduates. Let me assure you that practicing law actually has been a goal of mine for quite some time.

What question do you wish I had asked, how would you have answered it?
Really, just what else I am involved with here at UB? I'm a junior history and political science major—I plan to add African-American studies as a third major after I finish the other requirements this semester. I'm a member of Phi Eta Sigma, the national college honor society. I'm president and chair of the Board of Directors for Sub-Board I Inc. and for the Faculty Student Association Inc. In addition, I'm a SUNY Student Assembly delegate for the UB undergraduate Student Association


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