Public Affairs

Strengthening the Student Voice

November 29, 2012
By Miles Nevin, California State Student Association Executive Director
and Erik Fallis, CSU Media Relations Manager

The California State Student Association has worked closely with Chancellor Reed to develop a meaningful and active student role in policy-making and governance. In doing so, the Chancellor has met with hundreds of CSU student leaders throughout the years. We personally witnessed the Chancellor's honest interaction with students when representing our campuses on the CSSA Board of Directors (Nevin for CSU Long Beach in 2001-2002, Fallis for CSU San Bernardino in 2002-2003).

Our experiences confirmed the "no surprises" mantra that the Chancellor took when working with student leaders. Chancellor Reed was a state university system leader who met with the student association on a regular basis, provided ongoing access to university staff and resources for student association objectives, and supported the role of these student leaders in participating in university governance. The milestones achieved over his tenure are evidence of his support for student leadership. Below are four emblematic examples.

CSSA secured a stable funding agreement with the Office of the Chancellor. After 42 years of operating as an advocacy group for CSU students, CSSA entered into an era where stable funding as a student-governed non-profit allowed dramatic expansion of student participation in systemwide policy development and statewide advocacy.

CSSA worked with the Office of the Chancellor to develop the first-ever policy stipulating that students should be involved in the process to develop university policy, both because their involvement benefits the development of that policy and provides students with a leadership development experience. This was the first time in CSU history that students achieved a specific university governance role.

Recently, student leaders advocated systemwide standardization of "clicker" technology. Chancellor Reed supported the students and clickers are now standardized across the 23 campuses, ensuring that students are not required by faculty to purchase overly expensive devices or multiple devices in one academic term. The savings to students is significant.

CSSA went to the Chancellor to advocate for a policy requiring CSU auxiliary governing boards to operate with a student member on their boards. The Chancellor agreed and created a group to review auxiliary governance issues. The result is that all auxiliaries now ensure that student representation exists on their governing boards.

More than a decade of student voices

Every year, Chancellor Reed developed a particularly important partnership with the chief executives of CSSA. That experience is one that still resonates with many of the former and current student leaders.

"I had the good fortune of serving as chair when the California State Student Association entered into a funding stability agreement with Chancellor Reed. That annual grant has stabilized the association’s budget, ensured professional staff continuity, and assisted CSSA in achieving tangible victories in Sacramento and in Long Beach. Chancellor Reed should be commended for supporting student participation in this way. He has a lot of critics, but criticism is common for bold leaders."

-- Robert Garcia, CSSA Chair, 2001-02

"As the 2007-08 chair of the California State Student Association during an earlier tumultuous year for public higher education, I always appreciated the direct communication and leadership style that Chancellor Reed afforded me. He prioritized being accessible and also ensured that his team was accessible. He operated under a “no surprises” model of interaction, which serves students well and served me well as their representative to the Chancellor’s Office."

-- Dina Cervantes, CSSA Chair, 2007-08

"During the tenure of Chancellor Reed, the CSU has faced perhaps some of its most turbulent times to date. But thanks to the strong, focused, and visionary leadership of Chancellor Reed, the CSU has been able to continue placing a focus on accessibility to a quality education for all. There is no doubt in my mind the CSU is better institution thanks to Charles Reed. On behalf of CSU students, we thank him for his service to us and to this institution."

-- David Allison, CSSA President, 2012-13