The Board of Regents lacks transparency

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Right before fall break, students received an email on the increase in comprehensive fees. Like previous years, students are hit with the abrupt reality that they will pay even more the following year. While most students likely assumed that the overall comprehensive fees will increase next year, we were kept in the dark over an issue that affects us directly. But emails like this highlights an issue that has been continuing since I arrived at luther: a lack of transparency by the Board of Regents. The same day that Luther students received the brief email on the increase in comprehensive fees, faculty and staff were sent a far more extensive email outlining updates from the Board of Regents during their two day fall meeting. Although the email to faculty and staff did not necessarily go into the specifics of the issues in front of the Board of Regents, the email mentions areas like the budget deficit, the strategic plan, and changes to Luther’s bylaws.

Yet some of this problem may stem from the fact that many students do not understand the role of the Board of Regents, or even know that it exists. This is a troubling reality because students are unaware of the body that oversees major operations at Luther. Students have a right to know what is in front of the Board of Regents and what the board is reviewing, but Luther has not provided students with tangible information to learn about the board. If you search “Board of Regents” on Luther’s website, there is a list of names of each member on the board as well as some short background information on some of the members. However, there is no meaningful description of the functions of the Board of Regents on Luther’s website.

Luther needs to improve how they communicate with the student body when it comes to notable institutional changes. Instead of surprising students with vague emails, Luther should continuously update students on potential changes being considered as well as explain why those changes are being made. Take the increase in comprehensive fees for example. Students were only notified that the comprehensive fees will rise by 3.5% for the next academic year after the Board of Regents approved the increase. Students were also told in this email that nexts year’s increase is smaller than the previous year and that Luther alums default rate on student loans is much lower than the national average. But this does not tell us anything about why the comprehensive fees are rising and where the money is going.

It is imperative for the Board of Regents to be more transparent with students since their decisions directly affect us. The administration has a responsibility to update students on significant changes to Luther, but they have fallen short of this responsibility due to their inability to provide detailed updates on the issues facing the Board of Regents.

Opinions expressed in columns and letters are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Chips or organizations with which the author(s) are associated.

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