Board of Trustees speaking plan may change

On Oct. 27, 2009, protestors — many of them students — left a Board of Trustees meeting angry and frustrated because they couldn’t share their opinions about naming the new men’s basketball dorm Wildcat Coal Lodge.  Now, more than a year later, a plan has been proposed that would give people more time to apply to appear before the board.

Administrative Regulations 1:2, the current speaking policy, has been in effect since September 1970. According to a Nov. 17, 2009 Kernel article, to speak before the Board of Trustees, UK President Lee Todd, a committee and the full board must approve the request in a 30 hour time frame.

The agenda becomes available to the public at 9 a.m. the day before the board meetings take place, and the request must be approved by the time of the next day’s meeting. Under the new proposal, the agenda would be released to the public at least three full business days before the board meeting.

The new proposal also states that anyone wanting to address the board needs to submit a written petition to the chair of the board through the Office of the President at least two full business days before a scheduled board meeting. Under the current plan, anyone wanting to address the board must submit a written request to Todd after the agenda is posted at 9 a.m. the day before the meeting. The request must then be approved before it.

Joe Peek, finance professor and faculty representative to the board, sent an e-mail request to the president last year to change the speaking rules, but it was denied. He was involved in creating the new proposal. Peek said under the current policy, because people have to apply at least 24 hours before the meeting, they only have three or four hours to apply.

“What we currently have, you probably aren’t going to speak in front of the Board of Trustees unless they really want you to,” he said.

Peek said the new proposal would be a tremendous improvement.

“So now you actually have an opportunity to think about what’s going to be on the agenda,” Peek said.

Under the proposed plan, after a speaking request is submitted, the board chair, who may consult with the president, determines if the subject matter of the petition is relevant to a pending or future agenda item. If the subject is relevant, she will either tell the petitioner to address the full board or refer the petitioner to the appropriate committee of the board. If the chair does not find the subject relevant, the petition would not move on.

If moved to a committee, the committee would decide whether it can bring the topic up in front of the board for the petitioner or if the petitioner can speak to the full board.

Peek said under the new proposal, if a petition is granted, the speaker would have the opportunity to appear before the board’s vote was made on the issue. During the Wildcat Coal Lodge protest, some students complained because they didn’t have enough time to read the agenda and submit a request in time to speak at the meeting.

“Now, if it goes to committee, then if you’re allowed to speak, you would speak before a decision was made,” Peek said. “So if you’re allowed to speak at the committee meeting, you’ll be speaking to the committee members, but there will probably be a number of other trustees there.”

Student Government President Ryan Smith was one of three board members who dissented the vote to approve the naming of the Wildcat Coal Lodge last year, to give a voice to the student body, according to an Oct. 27, 2009 Kernel article.

Smith said he, along with former faculty representative Ernie Yanarella and former staff representative Robynn Pease, the other two who dissented last year’s vote, met and decided to fix the process.

Smith said after last year’s board meeting, it became clear to him that the university needed an easier process for students to address the board. He said the three of them came up with a working draft and when it went to the board, current staff representative Sheila Brothers and faculty representative Peek picked it up.

“I think now we have a proposal that I think really accomplished kind of what we were looking to do and not only allows students the opportunity to address the board … but it also allows for the board agenda to be released a few days before it normally was,” Smith said.

Peek said he presented the proposal to the University Senate where it was approved, and he attended the meeting when Brothers presented it to the Staff Senate where it was approved too. He said it would be decided whether or not the new proposal would replace the current one at next month’s board meeting.